Skip to main content

Full text of "Norse mythology : or, the religion of our forefathers, containing all the myths of the Eddas, systematized and interpreted with an introduction, vocabulary and index"

See other formats



.tP 231922 





























I think Scandinavian Paganism, to us here, is more interesting than any 
other. It is, for one thing, the latest ; it continued in these regions of 
Europe till the eleventh century : eight hundred years ago the Norwegians 
were still worshipers of Odin. It is interesting also as the creed of our 
fathers ; the men whose blood still runs in our veins, whom doubtless we 
still resemble in so many ways. Strange : they did believe that, while we 
believe so differently. Let us look a little at this poor Norse creed, for 
many reasons. We have tolerable means to do it ; for there is another 
point of interest in these Scandinavian mythologies : that they have been 
preserved so well. 

Neither is there no use in knowing something about this old Paganism 

of our fathers. Unconsciously, and combined with higher things, it is in us 

yet, that old faith withal. To know it consciously brings us into closer and 

clearer relations with the past, — with our own possessions in the past. For 

the whole past, as I keep repeating, is the possession of the present. The 

past had always something true, and is a precious possession. In a different 

time, in a different place, it is always some other side of our common human 

nature that has been developing itself. 

— Thomas Carlyle. 


AMERICA Not Discovered by Columbus having 
-^-^ been so favorably received by the press gener- 
ally, as well as by many distinguished scholars, who 
have expressed themselves in very flattering terms of 
our recent debut in English, we venture to appear 
again; and, although the subject is somewhat differ- 
ent, it still (as did the first) has its fountain head 
in the literature of the North. 

We come, this time, encouraged by all your kind 
words, with higher aspirations, and perhaps, too, with 
less timidity and modesty. We come to ask your 
opinion of Norse mythology. We come to ask whether 
Norse mythology is not equally as worthy of your 
attention as the Greek. Nay, we come to ask whether 
you will not give the Norse the preference. We pro- 
pose to call your attention earnestly, in this volume, 
to the merits of our common Gothic or Teutonic 
inheritance, and to chat a few hours with you about 
the imaginative, poetic and prophetic period of our 
Gothic history. 

We are well aware that we are here giving you 
a book full of imperfections so far as style, origi- 
nality, arrangement and external adornment of the 



subject is concerned, and we shall not take it much 
to heart, even if we are severely criticised in these 
respects; we shall rather take it as an earnest admo- 
nition to study and improve in language and com- 
position for the future. 

But, if the spirit of the book, that is, the cause 
which we have undertaken to plead therein, — if that 
be frowned down, or rejected, or laughed at, we shall 
be the recipient of a most bitter disappointment, and 
yet we shall not wholly despair. The time must 
come, when our common Gothic inheritance will be 
loved and respected. There will come men — ay, 
there are already men in our midst who will advo- 
cate and defend its rights on American soil with 
sharper steel than ours. And, though we may find 
but few roses and many thorns on our pathway, we 
shall not suffer our ardor in our chosen field of 
labor to be diminished. We are determined not to 
be discouraged. 

What we claim for this work is, that it is 
the first complete and systematic presentation of the 
Norse mythology in the English language; and this 
we think is a sufficient reason for our asking a 
humble place upon your book-shelves. And, while we 
make this claim, we fully appreciate the value of the 
many excellent treatises and translations that have 
appeared on this subject in England. We do not 
undervalue the labors of Dasent, Thorpe, Pigott, Car- 
lyle, etc., but none of these give a comprehensive 


account of all the deities and the myths in full. 
There is, indeed, no work outside of Scandinavia 
that covers the whole ground. So far as America is 
concerned, the only work on Norse mythology that 
has hitherto been published in this country is Bar- 
clay Pen"xock's translation of the Norse Professor 
Kudolph Keyser's Religion of the Northmen. This is 
indeed an excellent and scholarly work, and a valu- 
able contribution to knowledge ; but, instead of pre- 
senting the mythology of the Norsemen, it interprets 
it; and Professor Keyser is yet one of the most 
eminent authorities in the exposition of the Asa doc- 
trine. Pennock's translation of Keyser is a book of 
three hundred and forty-six pages, and of these only 
sixteen are devoted to a synopsis of the mythology; 
and it is, as the reader may judge, nothing but a 
very brief synopsis. The remaining three hundred 
and thirty pages contain a history of Old Norse lit- 
erature, an interpretation of the Odinic religion, and 
an exhibition of the manner of worship among the 
heathen Norsemen. In a word, Pennock's book pre- 
supposes a knowledge of the subject; and for one 
who has this, we would recommend PennocTc's Key- 
ser as the best work extant in English. We are 
indebted to it for many valuable paragraphs in this 
volume. • 

This subject has, then, been investigated by many 
able writers; and, in preparing this volume, we have 
borrowed from their works all t*he light they could 


slied upon our pathway. The authors we have chiefly- 
consulted are named in the accompanying list While 
we have used their very phrase whenever it was con- 
venient, we have not followed them in a slavish 
manner. We have made such changes as in our 
judgment seemed necessary to give our work harmony 
and symmetry throughout. We at first felt disposed 
to give the reader a mere translation either of N. 
M. Petersen, or of Grundtvig, or of P. A. Munch; 
but upon further reflection we came to the conclu- 
sion that we could treat the subject more satisfac- 
torily to ourselves, and fully as acceptably to our 
readers, by sketching out a plan of our own, and 
making free use of all the best writers upon this 
subject. And as we now review our pages, we find 
that N. M. Petersen has served us the most. Much 
of his work has been appropriated in an almost 
unchanged form. 

Although many of the ideas set forth in this 
work may seem new to American readers, yet they 
are by no means wholly original. Many of them 
have for many years been successfully advocated in 
Scandinavian countries, and to some extent, also, in 
Germany and England. Our aim has not at present 
been so much to make original investigations, as — 
that which is far more needed and to the purpose — 
to give the fruits of the labors performed in the 
North, and call the attention of the American pub- 
lic earnestly to the wealth stored up in the Eddas 
and Sas^as of Iceland. No one can doubt the cor- 


rectuess of our position in this matter, when he 
reflects that we are now drawing near the close of 
the nineteenth century, and have not yet had a com- 
plete Norse mythology in the English language, while 
the number of Greek and Eoman mythologies is 
legion. Bayard Taylor said to us, recently, that the 
Scandinavian languages, in view of their rich litera- 
ture, in view of the light which this literature throws 
upon early English history, and in view of the im- 
portance of Icelandic in a successful study of English 
and Anglo-Saxon, ought to be taught in every col- 
lege in Viuland; and that is the very pith of what 
we have to say in this preface. 

We have had excellent aid from Dr. S. H. Car- 
penter, who combines broad general culture with a 
thorough knowledge of Old English and Anglo-Saxon. 
He has read every page of this work, and we hereby 
thank him for the generous sympathy and advice 
which he has invariably given us. To President 
John Bascora we are under obligations for kind words 
and valuable suggestions. We hereby extend heartfelt 
thanks to Professor Willard Fiske, of Cornell Uni- 
versity, for aid and encouragement; to Mrs. Ole Bull, 
for free use of her excellent library; and to the 
poet, H. W. Longfellow, for permitting us to make 
extracts from his works, and to inscribe this volume 
to him as the Nestor among American writers on 
Scandinavian themes. May the persons here named 
find that this our work, in spite of its faults, ad- 


vances, somewhat, the interest in the studies of North- 
ern literature in this country. 

While Mallet's Northern Antiquities is a very 
valuable work, we cannot but make known our 
regrets that Blackwell's edition of it ever was pub- 
lished. Mr. Blackwell has in many ways injured the 
cause which he evidently intended to promote. While 
we, therefore, urge caution in the use of Mallet's 
Northern Antiquities by Blackwell, we can with all 
our heart recommend such writers upon the North 
as Dasent, Laing, Thorpe, Gosse, Pennock, Boyesen, 
Marsh, Fiske, the Howitts, Pigott, Lord Dufferin, 
Maurer, Mobius, Morris, Magniisson, Vigfusson, Hjal- 
talin, and several others. 

It is sincerely hoped that by this our effort we 
may, at least for the present, fill a gap in English 
literature, and accomplish something in awakening 
among students some interest in Norse mythology,' 
history, literature and institutions. Let it be remem- 
bered, that Carlyle, and many others of our best 
scholars, claim that it is from the Norsemen we have 
derived our vital energy, our freedom of thought, 
and, in a measure that we do not yet suspect, our 
strength of speech. 

We are conscious that our work contains many 
imperfections, and that others might have performed 
the task better; and thus we commend this volume 
to the kind indulgence of the critic and the reader. 

University of Wisconsin, May 15, 1875. 


The followiug authors have been consulted in 
preparing this work, and to them the reader is 
referred, if he wishes to make special study of the 
subject of Norse mythology. 

Of the Elder Edda we have used Benjamin Thorpe's 
translation and Sophus Bugge's edition of the original. 
It has been found necessary to make a few altera- 
tions in Thorpe's translation. Of the Younger Edda 
we have used Dasent's translation and Sveinbjorn 
Egilsson's edition of the original. Of modern Scan- 
dinavian writers we have confined ourselves mainly 
to N. M. Petersen, N. F. S. Grundtvig, P. A. Munch, 
Kudolph Keyser, Finn Magniisson, and Christian Win- 
ther. Other authors borrowed from more or less are : 
H. W. Longfellow, H. GT. Moller, E. Nyerup, E. G. 
Geier, M. Hammerich, P. J. Mone, Jacob Grimm, 
Thomas Keightly, Thomas Oarlyle, Max Miiller, and 
Geo. W. Cox. 

The recent excellent work of Alexander Murray 
has been referred to on the subject of Greek mythol- 
ogy. It claims on its title-page to give an account 
of Norse mythology; but we were surprised to find 



that the author dismisses the subject with fifteen 
pages and a few wood-cuts of questionable value. 

The philological notes are chiefly based upon the 
Icelandic Dictionary recently published by Macmillan 
& Co., and edited by Gudbrand Vigfusson, of Oxford 
University, England. We object to the price of it, 
which is thirty-two dollars, but it is indeed a schol- 
arly work, and marks a new epoch in the study of 
the Icelandic language. 

For the engraving opposite the title-page we are 
indebted to Mr. James E. Stuart, who has devoted many 
years in America and Europe to the study of his art. The 
painting, from which the engraving is made, is wholly 
original, and was made expressly for this work. We 
hereby extend our thanks to Mr. Stuart, and hope some 
day to see more of Norse mythology treated by his brush. 


A list of authors consulted in the preparation of this work will 
be found on page 13. 


The myth the oldest form of truth — The Unknown God — Inge- 
mund the Old — Thorkel Maane — Harald Fairfax — Every 
cause in nature a divinity — Thor in the thunder-storm — 
Prominent faculties impersonated — These gods worthy of 
reverence — Church ceremonies — Different religions — Hints 
to preachers — The mythology of out ancestors — la its 
oldest form it is Teutonic — What Dasent says — Thomas 
Carlyle, 23 



Introduction of Christianity — The Catholic priests — The Eddas 
— Mythology in its Germanic form — Thor not the same in 
Norway and Denmark — Norse mythology — Max Miiller, - 41 



Norse and Greek mythology widely differ — Balder and Adonis 
— Greek gods free from decay — The Deluge — Not the same 
but a similar tradition — The hard stone weeps tears — The 
separate groups exquisite — Greek mythology an epic poem 



— Theoktony — The Norse yields the prize to the Greek — 
Depth of Norse and Christian thought — Naastraud — Out- 
ward nature influences the mythology — Visit Norseland — 
Norse scenery — Simple and martial religion — Sincerity and 
grace — Norse and Greek mythology, 51 



Oxford and Cambridge — The Romans were robbers — We must 
not throw Latin wholly overboard — W^e must study English 
and Anglo-Saxon — English more terse than Latin — Greek 
preferable to Hebrew or Latin — Shakespeare — He who is 
not a son of Thor, 71 



Aberration from the true religion — Historical interpretation — 
Ethical interpretation — Physical interpretation — Odin, 
Thor, Argos, lo — Our ancestors not prosaic — The Romans 
again — Physical interpretation insufficient — Natural science 

— Historical prophecy — A complete mythology, - - -80 



How to educate the child — Ole Bull — Men frequently act like 
ants — Oelenschlseger — Thor's fishing — The dwarfs — Ten 
stanzas in Danish — The brush and the chisel — Nude art — 
The germ of the faith — We Goths are a chaste race — Dr. 
John Bascom — We are growing too prosaic and ungodly, - 94 



The Elder Edda — Icelandic poetry — Beowulf's Drapa and 
Niebelungen-Lied — Influence of the Norse mythology — 
Influence of the Asa-faith — Samuel Laing — Odinic rules of 
life — Havamiil — The lay of Sigdrifa — Rudolph Keyser — 
The days of the week, - 116 






Section!. The original condition of the world — Ginungagap. 
Section ii. The origin of the giants — Ymer. Section iii. 
The origin of the cow Audhumbla and the birth of the 
gods — Odin, Vile and Ve. Section iv. The Norse deluge and 
the origin of heaven and earth. Section v. The heavenly 
bodies, time, the wind, the rainbow — The sun and moon — 
Hrimfaxe and Skinfaxe — The seasons — The Elder Edda — 
Bil and Hjuke. Section vi. The Golden Age — The origin 
of the dwarfs — The creation of the first man and woman — 
The Elder Edda. Section vii. The gods and their abodes. 
Section viii. The divisions of the world, . . . . 171 



The ash Ygdrasil — Mimer's fountain — Urd's fountain — The 
norns or fates — Mimer and the Urdar-fountain — The 
norns, 188 



Pondus iners — The supreme god — The cow Audhumbla — 
Trinity — The Golden Age — Creation of man — The giants 
— The gods kill or marry the giants — Elves and hulders — 
Trolls — Nisses and necks — Merman and mermaid — Ygdra- 
sil — Mimer's fountain — The norns, 193 



PAET 11. 




Section i. Odin. Section ii. Odin's names. Section iii. Odin's 
outward appearance. Section iv. Odin's attributes. Sec- 
tion V. Odin's journeys. Section vi. Odin and Mimer. 
Section vii. Hlidskjalf. Section viii. The liistorical Odin. 
Section ix. Odin's wives. Section x. Frigg's maid-servants. 
Section xi. Gefjun — Eir. Section xii. Rind. Section xiii. 
Gunlad — The origin of poetry. Section xiv. Saga. Sec- 
tion XV. Odin as the inventor of runes. Section xvi. Val- 
hal. Section xvii. The valkyries, 215 



Section i. Hermod. Section ii. Tyr. Section iii. Heimdal. Sec- 
tion iv. Brage and Idun. Section v. Idun and her apples, 270 



Section i. Balder. Section ii. The death of Balder the Good. 
Section iii. Forsete, 279 



Section!. General synopsis — Thor, Sif and Uller. Section ii. 
Thor and Hrungner. Section iii. Thor and Geirrod. Sec- 
tion iv. Thor and Skr3'mer. Section v. Thor and the Mid- 
gard-serpent (Thor and Hymer). Section vi. Thor and 
Thrym, 298 


VIDAR, 337 



Section i. Njord and Skade. Section ii. Mger and Ran. Sec- 
tion iii. Frey. Section iv. Frey and Gerd. Section v. Wor- 
ship of Frey. Section vi. Freyja. Section vii. A brief 
review, 341 


Section i. Loke. Section ii. Loke's children — The Fenris- 
wolf. Section iii. Jormungander or the Midgard-serpent. 
Section iv. Hel. Section v. The Norsemen's idea of death. 
Section vi. Loke's punishment. Section vii. The iron post. 
Section viii. A brief review, 371 






Vocabulary, 439 

Index, 463 





The word mythology [iJ-vd-oXoyia, from pMoi;, word, 
tale, fable, and X6yo<;, speech, discourse,) is of Greek ori- 
gin, and our vernacular tongue has become so adulter- 
ated with Latin and Greek words ; we have studied Latin 
and Greek in place of English, Anglo-Saxon, Norse and 
Gothic so long that we are always in a quandary (qii'en 
dirai-je ?), always tongue-tied when we attempt to speak 
of something outside or above the daily returning cares 
of life. Our own good old English words have been 
crowded out by foreign ones; this is our besetting sin. 
But, as the venerable Professor George Stephens remarks 
in his elaborate work on Eunic Monuments, we have 
watered our mother tongue long enough with bastard 
Latin ; let us now brace and steel it with the life-water 
of our own sweet and soft and rich and shining and 
clear-ringing and manly and world-ranging, ever-dearest 

Mythology is a system of myths ; a collection of 
popular legends, fables, tales, or stories, relating to the 
gods, heroes, demons or other beings whose names have 
been preserved in popular belief. Such tales are not 
found in the traditions of the ancient Greeks, Hindoos 



and Egyptians, only, but every nation has had its sys- 
tem of mythology; and that of the ancient Norsemen"^, 
is more simple, earnest, miraculous, stupendous and 
divine than any other mythological system of which 
we have record. 

The myth is the oldest form of truth; and mythol- 
ogy is the knowledge which the ancients had of the 
Divine. The object of mythology is to find God and 
come to him. Without a written revelation this may 
be done in two ways: either by studying the intellect- 
ual, moral and physical nature of man, for evidence of 
the existence of God may be found in the proper study 
of man ; or by studying nature in the outward world 
in its general structure, adaptations and dependencies; 
and truthfully it may be said that God manifests him- 
self in nature. 

Our Norse forefathers (for it is their religion we are 
to present in this volume) had no clearly-defined knowl- 
edge of any god outside of themselves and nature. 
Like the ancient Greeks, they had only a somewhat 
vague idea about a supreme God, whom the rhapsodist 
or skald in the Elder Edda (HyndluljoS 43, 44) dare 
not name, and whom few, it is said, ever look far 
enough to see. In the language of the Elder Edda: 

Then one is born 

Greater than all ; 

He becomes strong 

With the strengths of earth; 

The mightiest king 

Men call him. 

Fast knit in peace 

"With all powers. 

Then comes another 
\ Yet more mighty ; 


But him dare I not 
Venture to name. 
Few further may look 
Thau to where Odin 
To meet the wolf goes. 

Odin goes to meet the Fenriswolf in Eagnarok (the 
twilight of the gods; that is, the final conflict between 
all good and evil powers) ; but now let the reader com- 
pare the above passage from the Elder Edda with the 
following passage from the seventeenth chapter of the 
Acts of the Apostles: 

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' Hill and said : Ye 
men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too super- 
stitious ; for as I passed by and beheld your devotions, I found 
an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. 
Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you, ' 

It was of this same unhnoimi God that one of the 
ancient Greek poets had said, that in him we live and 
move and have our being. Thus did the Greeks find 
Jehovah in the labyrinth of their heathen deities; and 
when we claim that the Norse mythology is more 
divine than any other system of mythology known, we 
mean by this assertion, that the supreme God is men- 
tioned and referred to oftener, and stands out in bolder 
relief in the Norseman's heathen belief, than in any 

It is a noticeable fact that long before Christianity 
was introduced or had even been heard of in Iceland, 
it is recorded that Ingemund the Old, a heathen Norse- 
man, bleeding and dying, prayed God to forgive Rolleif, 
his murderer. 

Another man of the heathen times, Thorkel Maane, 
a supreme judge of Iceland, a man of unblemished life 
and distinguished among the wisest magistrates of that 


island during the time of the republic, avowed that he 
would worship no other God but him who had created 
the sun; and in his dying hour he prayed the Father 
of Light to illuminate his soul in the darkness of death. 
Arngrim Jonsson tells us that when Thorkel Maane 
had arrived at the age of maturity and reflection, he 
disdained a blind obedience to traditionary custom, 
and employed much of his time in weighing the estab- 
lished tenets of his countrymen by the standard of 
reason. He divested his mind of all j)rejudice; he 
pondered on the sublimity of nature, and guided him- 
self by maxims founded on truth and reason. By these 
means he soon discovered not only the fallacy of that faith 
which governed his countrymen, but became a convert 
to the existence of a supreme power more mighty than 
Thor or Odin. In l;is maker he acknowledged his God, 
and to him alone directed his homage from a conviction 
that none other was worthy to be honored and wor- 
shiped. Oui perceiving the approach of death, this 
pious and sensible man requested to be conveyed into 
the open air, in order that, as he said, he might in his 
last moments contemplate the glories of Almighty God, 
who has created the heavens and the earth and all that 
in them is. 

Harald Fairfax (Haarfager), the first sovereign of Nor- 
way, the king that united Norway under his scepter in 
the year 872, is another remarkable example in this 
respect. He was accustomed to assist at the public 
offerings made by his people in honor of their gods. 
As no better or more pure religion was known in those 
days, he acted with prudence in not betraying either 
contempt or disregard for the prevailing worship of the 
country, lest his subjects, stimulated by such example, 
might become indifferent, not only to their sacred, but 


also to their political, duties. Yet he rejected from his 
heart these profane ceremonies, and believed in the 
existence of a more powerful god, whom he secretly 
adored. I swear, he once said, never to make my 
oflEerings to an idol, but to that God alone whose om- 
nipotence has formed the world and stamped man with 
his own image. It would be an act of folly in me to 
expect help from him whose power and empire arises 
from the accidental hollow of a tree or the peculiar 
form of a stone. 

Such examples illustrate how near the educated and 
reflecting Norse heathen was in sympathy with Chris- 
tianity, and also go far toward proving that the object 
of mythology is to find God and come to him. 

Still we must admit that of this supreme God our 
forefathers had only a somewhat vague conception ; and 
to many of them he was almost wholly unknown. 
Their god was a natural human god, a person. There 
can be no genuine poetry without impersonation, and a 
perfect system of mythology is a finished poem. My- 
thology is, in fact, religious truth expressed in poetical 
language. It ascribes all events and phenomena in the 
outward world to a personal cause. Each cause is some 
divinity or other — some god or demon. In this man- 
ner, when the ancients heard the echo from the woods 
or mountains, they did not think, as we now do, that 
the waves of sound were reflected, but that there stood 
a dwarf, a personal being, who repeated the words 
spoken by themselves. This dwarf had to have a his- 
tory, a biography, and this gave rise to a myth. To 
our poetic ancestors the forces of nature were not veiled, 
under scientific names. As Carlyle truthfully remarks, 
they had not yet learned to reduce to their fundamental 
elements and lecture learnedly about this beautiful, 


green, rock-built, flowery earth, with its trees, mount- 
ains and many-sounding waters; about the great deep 
sea of azure that swims over our heads, and about the 
various winds that sweep through it. When they saw 
the black clouds gathering and shutting out the king 
of day, and witnessed them pouring out rain and ice 
and fire, and heard the thunder roll, tliey did not think, 
as we now do, of accumulated electricity discharged from 
the clouds to the earth, and show in the lecture room 
how something like these powerful shafts of lightning 
could be ground out of glass or silk, but they ascribed 
the phenomenon to a mighty divinity — Thor — who in 
his thundei'-chariot rides through the clouds and strikes 
with his huge hammer, Mjolner. The theory of our 
forefathers furnishes food for the imagination, for our 
poetical nature, while the reflection of the waves of 
sound and the discharge of • electricity is merely dry 
reasoning — mathematics and physics. To our ances- 
tors Nature presented herself in her naked, beautiful 
and awful majesty; while to us in this age of New- 
tons, Millers, Oersteds, Berzeliuses and Tyndalls, she is 
enwrapped in a multitude of profound scientific phrases. 
These phrases make us flatter ourselves that we have 
fathomed her mysteries and revealed her secret work- 
ings, while in point of fact we are as far from the real 
bottom as our ancestors were. But we have robbed 
ourselves to a sad extent of the poetry of nature. Well 
might Barry Cornwall complain : 

O ye delicious fables! where the wave 
And the woods were peopled, aud the air, with things 

So lovely! Why, ah! why has science grave 
Scattered afar your sweet imaginings? 

The old Norsemen said: The mischief-maker Loke 
cuts for mere sport the hair of the goddess Sif, but 


the gods compel liiin to furnish her new hair. Loke 
gets dwarfs to forge for her golden hair, which grows 
almost spontaneously. We, their prosaic descendants, 
say: The heat (Loke) scorches the grass (Sif's hair), 
but the same physical agent (heat) sets the forces of 
nature to work again, and new grass with golden 
(that is to say bright) color springs up again. 

Thus our ancestors spoke pf all the workings of 
nature as thougli they were caused by personal agents; 
and instead of saying, as we now do, that winter fol- 
lows summer, and explaining how the annual revolu- 
tions of the earth produce the changes that are called 
seasons of the year, they took a more poetical view of 
the phenomenon, and said that the blind god Hoder 
(winter) was instigated by Loke (heat) to slay Balder 
(the summer god). 

This idea of personifying the visible workings of 
nature was so completely develoj)ed that prominent fac- 
ulties or attributes of the gods also were subject to 
impersonation, Odin, it was said, had two ravens, Hu- 
gin and Munin; that is, reflection and memory. They 
sit upon his shoulders, and whisper into his ears. 
Thor's strength was redoubled whenever he girded him- 
self with Megiugjarder, his belt of strength ; his steel 
gloves, with which he wielded his hammer, produced 
the same eflect. Nay, strength was so eminent a char- 
acteristic with Thor that it even stands out apart from 
him as an independent person, and is represented by 
his son Magne (strength), who accompanies him on his 
journeys against the frost-giants. 

In this manner a series of myths were formed and 
combined into a system which we now call mythology; 
a system which gave to our fathers gods whom they 
worshiped, and in whom they trusted, and which gives 


to US a mirror in which is reflected the popular life^ 
the intellectual and moral characteristics of our ances- 
tors. And these gods were indeed worthy of reverence ; 
they were the embodiments of the noblest thoughts and 
purest feelings, but these thoughts and feelings could 
not be awakened without a personified image. As soon 
as the divine idea was born, it assumed a bodily form, 
and, in order to give* the mind a more definite compre- 
hension of it, it was frequently drawn down from 
heaven and sculptured in wood or stone. The object 
was by images to. make manifest unto the senses the 
attributes of the gods, and thus the more easily secure 
the devotion of the people. The heathen had to see 
the image of God, the image of the infinite thought 
embodied in the god, or he would not kneel down and 
worship. This idea of wanting something concrete, 
something within the reach of the senses, we find deeply 
rooted in human nature. Man does not want an ab- 
stract god, but a personal, visible god, at least a visible 
sign of his presence. And we who live in the broad 
daylight of revealed religion and science ought not to 
be so prone to blame our forefathers for paying divine 
honors to images, statues and other representations or 
symbols of their gods, for the images were, as the words 
imply, not the gods themselves to whom the heathen 
addressed his prayers and supplications, but merely the 
symbols of these gods; and every religion, Christianity 
included, is mythical in its development. The tendency 
is to draw the divine down to earth, in order to rise 
with it again to heaven. When God suffers with us, it 
becomes easier for us to suffer; when he redeems us, 
our salvation becomes certain. God is in all systems 
of religion seen, as it were, through a glass — never face 
to face. No one can see Jehovah and live. 


Even as in our present condition our immortal soul 
cannot do without the visible body, and cannot without 
this reveal itself to its fellow-beings, so our faith 
requires a visible church, our religion must assume 
some form in which it can be apprehended by the 
senses. Our faith is made stronger by the visible 
church in the same manner as the mind gains knowl- 
edge of the things about us by means of the bodily 
organs. The outward rite or external form and cere- 
monial ornament, which are so conspicuous in the 
Roman and Greek Catholic churches, for instance, serve 
to awaken, edify and strengthen the soul and assist the 
memory in recalling the religious truths and the events 
in the life of Christ and of the saints more vividly and 
forcibly to the mind; besides, pictures and images are 
to the unlettered what books are to those educated in 
the art of reading. Did not Christ himself combine 
things supersensual with things within the reach of the 
senses? The purification and sanctification of the soul 
he combined with the idea of cleansing the body in 
the sacrament of baptism. The remembrance of him 
and of his love, how he gave his body and blood for 
the redemption of fallen man, he combined with the 
eating of bread and drinking of wine in the sacrament 
of the Lord's Supper. He gave his religion an outward, 
visible form; and, just as the soul is mirrored in the 
eyes, in the expression of the countenance, in the gest- 
ures and manners of the body, so our faith is reflected 
in the church. This is what is meant by myth- 
ical development; and when we discover this tendency 
to cling to visible signs and ceremonies manifesting 
itself so extensively even in the Christian church of 
our own time, it should teach us to be less severe in 
judging and blaming the heathen for their idol-worship. 


As long as the nations have inhabited the earth, 
there have been different rehgions among men; and 
how could this be otherwise? The countries which 
they have inhabited; the skies which they have looked 
upon ; their laws, customs and social institutions ; their 
habits, language and knowledge ; have differed so widely 
that it would be absurd to look for uniformity in the 
manner in which they have found, comprehended and 
worshiped God. Nay, this is not all. Even among 
Christians, and, if we give the subject a careful exami- 
nation, even among tliose who confess one and the same 
faith and are members of one and the same church, we 
find that the religion of one man is never perfectly 
like that of another. They may use the same prayers, 
learn and subscribe to the same confession, hear the 
same preacher and take part in the same ceremonies, 
but still the prayer, faith and worship of the one will 
differ from the prayer, faith and worship of the other. 
Two persons are never precisely alike, and every one 
will interpret the words which he hears and the cere- 
monies in which he takes part according to the depth 
and breadth of his mind and heart — according to the 
extent and kind of his knowledge and experience, and 
according to other personal peculiarities and character- 
istics. Even this is not all. Every person changes his 
religious views as he grows older, as his knowledge and 
experience increase, so that the faith of the youth is 
not that of the child, nor does the man with silvery 
locks approach the altar with precisely the same faith 
as when he knelt there a youth. For it is not the 
words and ceremonies, but the thoughts and feelings, 
that we combine with these symbols, that constitute 
our religion ; it is not the confession which we learned 
at school, but the ideas that are suggested by it in our 


minds, and the emotions awakened by it in our hearts, 
that constitute our faith. 

If the preachers of the Christian religion realized 
these truths more than they generally seem to do, they 
would perhaps speak with more charity and less scorn 
and contempt of people who difiFer from them in their 
religious views. They would recognize in the faith of 
others the same connecting link between God and man 
for them, as their own faith is for themselves. They 
would not hate the Jew because he, in accordance with 
the Mosaic commandment, offers his prayers in the 
synagogue to the God of his fathers; nor despise the 
heathen because he, in want of better knowledge, in 
childlike simplicity lifts his hands in prayer to an im- 
age of wood or stone; for, although this be perishable 
dust, he still addresses the prayer of his inmost soul to 
the supreme God, even as the child, that kisses the 
picture of his absent mother, actually thinks of her. 

The old mythological stories of the Norsemen abound 
in poetry of the truest and most touching character. 
These stories tell us in sublime and wonderful speech 
of the workings of external nature, and may make us 
cheerful or sad, happy or mournful, gay or grave, just 
as we might feel, if from the pinnacle of Gausta Fjeld 
we were to watch the passing glories of morning and 
evening tide. There is nothing in these stories that 
can tend to make us less upright and simple, while 
they contain many thoughts and suggestions that we 
may be the better and happier for knowing. All the 
so-called disagreeable features of mythology are nothing 
but distortions, brought out either by ill-will or by a 
superficial knowledge of the subject; and, when these 
distortions are removed, we shall find only things beau- 
tiful, lovely and of good report. We shall find the 


simple thoughts of our childlike, imaginative, poetic and 
prophetic foi'efathers upon the wonderful works of their 
maker, and nothing that "we may laugh at, or despise, 
or 79^7^. These words of our fathers, if read in the 
right spirit, will make us feel as we ought to feel when 
we contemplate the glory and beauty of the heavens 
and the earth, and observe how wonderfully all things 
are adapted to each other and to the wants of man, 
that the thoughts of him who stands at the helm of 
this ship of the universe (Skidbladner) must be very 
deep, and that we are sensible to the same joys and 
sufferings, are actuated by the same fears and hopes 
and passions, that were felt by the men and women 
who lived in the dawn of our Gothic history. We will 
begin to realize how the great and wise Creator has led 
our race on — slowly, perhaps, but nevertheless surely — 
to the consciousness that he is a loving and righteous 
Father, and that he has made the sun and moon and 
stars, the earth, and all that in them is, in their sea- 

The Norse mythology reflects, then, the religious, 
moral, intellectual and social development of our ances- 
tors in the earliest period of their existence. We say 
our ancestors, for we must bear in mind that in its 
most original form this mythology was common to all 
the Teutonic nations, to the ancestors of the Americans 
and the English, as well as to those of the Norsemen, 
Swedes and Danes. Geographically it extended not only 
over the whole of Scandinavia, including Iceland, but 
also over England and a considerable portion of France 
and Germany. But it is only in Iceland, that weird 
island of the icy sea, with the snow-clad volcano Mt. 
Hecla for its hearth, encircled by a wall of ^glaciers, 
and with the roaring North Sea for its grave, — it is 


only in Iceland that anything like a complete record 
of this ancient Teutonic mythology was put in writ- 
ing and preserved; and this fact alone ought to be 
quite sufficient to lead us to cultivate a better acquaint- 
ance with the literature of Scandinavia. To use the 
words of that excellent Icelandic scholar, the English- 
man George Webbe Dasent: It is well known, says 
he, that the Icelandic language, which has been pre- 
served almost incorrupt in that remarkable island, has 
remained for many centuries the depository of literary 
treasures, the common property of all the Scandinavian 
and Teutonic races, which would otherwise have per- 
ished, as they have perished in Norway, Denmark, 
Sweden, G-ermany and England. There was a time 
when all these countries had a common mythology, 
when the royal race in each of them traced its descent 
in varying genealogies up to Odin and the gods of 
Asgard. Of that mythology, luliicli may hold its own 
against any other that the world has seen, all memory, 
as a systematic whole, has vanished from the mediaeval 
literature of Teutonic Europe. With the introduction 
of Christianity, the ancient gods had been deposed 
and their places assigned to devils and witches. Here 
and there a tradition, a popular tale or a superstition 
bore testimon,y to what had been lost; and, though 
in this century the skill and wisdom of the Grimms 
and their school have shown the world what power 
of restoration and reconstruction abides in intelli- 
gent scholarship and laborious research, even the 
genius of the great master of that school of criticism 
would have lost nine-tenths of its poiver had not faith- 
ful Iceland preserved through the dark ages the two 
Eddas, which present to us, in features that cannot he 
mistaken, and in tvords which cannot die, the very form 


and fashion of that wojuh'ous edifice of mythohgy which 
our forefathers in the da-wn of time imagined to tliem- 
selves as the temple at once of their gods and of the 
ivorship due to them from all mankind on tJiis middle 
earth. For man, according to their system of belief, 
could have no existence but for those gods and stalwart 
divinities, who, from their abode in Asgard, were ever 
watchful to protect him and crush the common foes of 
both, the earthly race of giants, or, in other words, -the 
chaolic natural powers. Any one, therefore, that desires 
to see what manner of men his forefathers were in their 
relation to the gods, how they conceived their theogony, 
how they imagined and constructed their cosmogony, 
must betake himself to the Eddas, as illustrated by the 
Sagas, and he will there find ample details on all these 
points; while the Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic literatures 
only throw out vague hints and allusions. As we read 
Beowulf and the Traveler's Song, for instance, we meet 
at every step references to mythological stories and myth- 
ical events, which would be utterly unintelligible were 
it not for the full light thrown ujion them by the Ice- 
landic literature. Thus far Dasent's opinion. 

The Norse mythology, we say, then, shows what the 
religion of our ancestors was; and their religion is the 
main fact that we care to know about them. Knowing 
this well, 'we can easily account for the rest. Their re- 
ligion is the soul of their history. Their religion tells 
us what they felt; their feelings produced their thoughts, 
and their thoughts were the parents of their acts. When 
we study their religion, we discover the unseen and 
spiritual fountain from which all their outward acts 
welled forth, and by which the character of these was 

The mythology is neither the history nor the poetry 


nor the natural philosophy of our ancestors; but it is 
the germ and nucleus of them all. It is history, for it 
treats of events; but it is not history in the ordinary 
acceptance of that word, for the persons figuring therein 
have never existed. It is natural philosophy, for it in- 
vestigates the origin of nature; but it is not natural 
philosophy according to modern ideas, for it personifies 
and deifies nature. It is metaphysics, for it studies the 
science and the laws of being; but it is 7iot metaphysics 
in our sense of the word, for it rapidly overleaps all 
categories. It is poetry in its very essence; but its pic- 
tures are streams that flow together. Thus the Norse 
mythology is history, but limited to neither time nor 
place; poetry, but independent of arses or theses; phi- 
losophy, but without abstractions or syllogisms. 

We close this chapter vnt\\ the following extract from 
Thomas Carlyle's essays on Heroes and Hero-worship; 
an extract that undoubtedly will be read with interest 
and pleasure: 

In that strange island — Iceland — burst up, the geologists 
say, by fire, from the bottom of the sea ; a wild land of barren- 
ness and lava ; swallowed, many months of the year, in black 
tempests, yet with a wild, gleaming beauty in summer-time ; 
towering up there, stern and grim, in the North Ocean ; with 
its snow-jokuls, roaring geysers, sul.phur pools and horrid vol- 
canic chasms, like the waste, chaotic battle-field of frost and fire 
— where of all places we least looked for literature or written 
memorials ; the record of these things was written down. On 
the seaboard of this wild land is a rim of grassy country, where 
cattle can subsist, and men, by means of them and of what the 
sea yields; and it seems they were poetic men, these — ^^men who 
had deep thoughts in them, and uttered musically their thoughti-'. 
Much would be lost had Iceland not been burst up from the 
sea — not been discovered by the Northmen! The old Norse 
poets were many of them natives of Iceland. 

Siaemund, one of the early Christian priests there, who per- 
haps had a lingering fondness for paganism, collected certain of 


their old pagan songs, just about becoming obsolete then — 
poems or chants, of a mythic, prophetic, mostly all of a reli- 
gious, character: this is what Norse critics call the Elder or 
Poetic Edda. Edda, a word of uncertain etymology, is thought 
to signify Ancestress. Snorre Sturlesou, an Iceland gentleman, 
an extremely notable personage, educated by this Ssemund's 
grandson, took in hand next, near a century afterwards, to put 
together, among several other books he wrote, a kind of prose 
synopsis of the whole mythology, elucidated by new fragments 
of traditionary verse; a work constructed really with great 
ingenuity, native talent, what one might call unconscious art ; 
altogether a perspicuous, clear work — pleasant reading still. 
This is the Younger or Prose Edda. By these and the numer- 
ous other Sagas, mostly Icelandic, with the commentaries, Icelandic 
or not, which go on zealously in the North to this day, it is 
possible to gain some direct insight even yet, and see that old 
system of belief, as it were, face to face. Let us forget that it 
is erroneous religion: let us look at it as old thought, and try 
if we cannot sympathize with it somewhat. 

The primary characteristic of this old Northland mythology 
I find to be impersonation of the visible workings of nature — 
earnest, simple recognition of the workings of physical nature, 
as a thing wholly miraculous, stupendous and divine. "What we 
low lecture of as science, they wondered at, and fell down in 
awe before, as religion. The dark, hostile powers of nature 
they figured to themselves as JiHuns (giants), huge, shaggy 
beings, of a demoniac character. Frost, Fire, Sea, Tempest, these 
are Jotuns. The friendly powers, again, as Summer-heat, the 
Bun, are gods. The Empire of this Universe is divided between 
these two ; they dwell apart in perennial internecine feud. The 
gods dwell above in Asgard, the Garden of the Asas, or Divin- 
ities; Jutunheim, a distant, dark, chaotic land, is the home of 
the Jotuns. 

Curious, all this; and not idle or inane if we will look at 
the foundation of it. The power of Fire or Flame, for instance, 
which we designate by some trivial chemical name, thereby hid- 
ing from ourselves the essential character of wonder that dwells 
in it, as in all things, is, with these old Northmen, Loge, a most 
swift, subtle demon, of the brood of the Jotuns. The savages 
of the Ladrones Islands, too (say some Spanish voyagers), thought 
■^re, which they had never seen before, was a devil, or god, 


that bit you sharply wheu you touched it, and lived there upon 
dry wood. From us, too, no chemistry, if it had not stupidity 
to help it, would hide that flame is a wonder. What is flame? 
Frost the old Norse seer discerns to be a monstrous, hoary 
Jiitun, the giant Tlirym, Ilrym, or Rime, the old word, now nearly 
obsolete here, but still used in Scotland to signify hoar-frost. 
Rime was not then, as now, a dead chemical thing, but a living 
Jotun, or Devil ; the monstrous Jutun Rime drove home his 
horses at night, sat combing their manes; — which horses were 
Hail-clouds, or fleet Frost-winds. His cows — no, not his, but a 
kinsman's, the giant Hymer's cows — are Icebergs. This Hymer 
looks at the rocks with his devil-eye, and they split in the 
glance of it. 

Thunder was then not mere electricity, vitreous or resin-, 
ous; it was the god Conner (Thunder), or Thor, — god, also, of 
the beneficent Summer-heat. The thunder was his wrath ; the 
gathering of the black clouds is the drawing down of Thor'a 
angry brows; the fire-bolt bursting out of heaven is the all- 
rending hammer flung from the hand of Thor. He urges his 
loud chariot over the m.ountain tops — that is the peal ; wrath- 
ful he blows in his red beard — that is the rustling storm- 
blast before the thunder begins. Balder, again, the White 
God, the beautiful, the just and benignant, (whom the early 
Christian missionaries found to resemble Christ,) is the sun — 
beautifulest of visible things: wondrous, too, and divine still, 
after all our astronomies and almanacs ! But perhaps the nota- 
blest god we hear tell of is one of whom Grimm, the German 
etymologist, finds trace: the god Wlinsch, or Wish. The god 
Wish, who could give us all that we wislied I Is not this the 
sincerest and yet the rudest voice of the spirit of man? The 
rudest ideal that man ever formed, which still shows itself in 
the latest forms of our spiritual culture. Higher considerations 
have to teach us that the god Wish is not the true God. 

Of the other gods or Jotuns, I will mention, only for ety- 
mology's sake, that Sea-tempest is the Jotun JEgir, a very dan- 
gerous Jtitun; and now to this day, on our river Trent, as I 
learn, the Nottingham bargemen, when the river is in a certain 
flooded state (a kind of back-water or eddying swirl it has, very 
dangerous to them), call it Eager. They cry out, Have a care! 
there is the Eager coming! Curious, that word surviving, like 
the peak of a submerged world! The oldest Nottingham barge- 


men had believed in the god ^gir. Indeed, our English blood, 
too, in good part, is Danish, Norse, — or rather, at the bottom, 
Danish and Norse and Saxon have no distinction, except a 
superficial one — as of Heathen and Christian, or the like.. But 
all over our island we are mingled largely with Danes proper 
— from the incessant invasions there were ; and this, of course, 
in a greater proportion along the east coast ; and greatest of all, 
as I find, in the north country. From the Plumber upward, all 
over Scotland, the speech of the common people is still in a 
singular degree Icelandic ; its Germanism Las still a peculiar 
Norse tinge. They, too, are Normans, Northmen — if that be 
any great beauty ! 

Of the chief god, Odin, we shall speak by-and-by. Mark, 
at present, so much: what the essence of Scandinavian, and, 
indeed, of all paganism, is : a recognition of the forces of nature 
as godlike, stupendous, personal agencies — as gods and demons. 
Not inconceivable to us. It is the infant thought of man open- 
ing itself with awe and wonder on this ever stupendous uni- 
verse. It is strange, after our beautiful Apollo statues and 
clear smiling mythuses, to come down upon the Norse gods 
brewing ale to hold their feast with Aegir, the Sea-Jotun ; 
sending out Thor to get the caldron for them in the Jotun 
country ; Thor, after many adventures, clapping the pot on his 
head, like a huge hat, and walking oflF with it — quite lost in it, 
the ears of the pot reaching down to his heels ! A kind of 
vacant hugeness, large, awkward gianthood, characterizes that 
Norse system ; enormous force, as yet altogether untutored, 
stalking helpless, with large, uncertain strides. Consider only 
their primary mythus of the Creation. The gods having got the 
giant Ymer slain — a giant made by warm winds and much 
confused work out of the conflict of Frost and Fire — determined 
on constructing a world 'with him. His blood made the sea; 
his flesh was the Land ; the Rocks, his bones ; of his eyebrows 
they formed Asgard, their gods' dwelling; Ids skull was the 
great blue vault of Immensity, and the brains of it became the 
Clouds. What a Hyper-Brobdignagian business ! Untamed 
thought, great, giantlike, enormous; to be tamed, in due time, 
into the compact greatness, not giantlike, but godlike, and 
stronger than gianthood of the Shakespeares, the Goethes ! 
Spiritually, as well as bodily, these men are our progenitors. 



IN its original form, the mythology, which is to be 
presented in this volume, was common to all the Teu- 
tonic nations; and it spread itself geographically over 
England, the most of France and Germany, as well as 
over Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland. But 
when the Teutonic nations parted, took possession of 
their respective countries, and began to differ one nation 
from the other, in language, customs and social and 
political institutions, and were influenced by the pecu- 
liar features of the countries which they respectively 
inhabited, then the germ of mythology which each na- 
tion brought with it into its changed conditions of life, 
would also be subject to changes and developments in 
harmony and keeping with the various conditions of 
climate, language, customs, social and political institu- 
tions, and other influences that nourished it, while the 
fundamental myths remained common to all the Teu- 
tonic nations. Hence we might in one sense speak of 
a Teutonic mythology. That would then be the my- 
thology of the Teutonic peoples, as it was known to 
them while they all lived together, some four or five 
hundred years before the birth of Christ, in the south- 
eastern part of Russia, without any of the peculiar feat- 
ures that have been added later by any of the several 
4 (41) 


branches of that race. But from this time we have no 
Teutonic literature. In another sense, we must recog- 
nize a distinct German mythology, a distinct English 
mythology, and even make distinction between the my- 
thologies of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. 

That it is only of the Norse mythology we have 
anything like a complete record, was alluded to in the 
first chapter; but we will now make a more thorough 
examination of this fact. 

The different branches of the Teutonic mythology 
died out and disappeared as Christianity gradually 
became introduced, first in France, about five hundred 
years after the birth of Christ; then in England, one 
or two hundred years later; still later, in Germany, 
where the Saxons, Christianized by Charlemagne about 
A. D. 800, were the last heathen people. 

But in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland, the 
original Gothic heathenism lived longer and more inde- 
pendently than elsewhere, and had more favorable oppor- 
tunities to grow and mature. The ancient mythological 
or pagan religion flourished here until about the middle 
of the eleventh century; or, to speak more accurately, 
Christianity was not completely introduced in Iceland 
before the beginning of the eleventh century; in Den- 
mark and Norway, some twenty to thirty years later; 
wliile in Sweden, paganism was not wholly eradicated 
before 1150. 

Yet neither Norway, Sweden nor Denmark give us 
any mythological literature. This is furnished us only 
by the Norsemen, who had settled in Iceland. Shortly 
after the introduction of Christianity, which gave the 
Norsemen the so-called Eoman alphabetical system 
instead of their famous Eunic futliorc, there was put 
in writing in Iceland a colossal mythological and his- 


torical literature, which is the full-blown flower of 
Gothic paganism. In the other countries inhabited 
by Gothic (Scandinavian, Low Dutch and English) and 
Germanic (High German) races, scarcely any mytho- 
logical literature was produced. The German Niebe- 
lungen-Lied and the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf's Drapa are 
at best only semi-mythological. The overthrow of hea- 
thendom was too abrupt and violent. Its eradication 
was so complete that the heathen religion was almost 
wholly obliterated from the memory of the people. 
Occasionally there are found authors who refer to it, 
but their allusions are very vague and defective, besides 
giving unmistakable evidence of being written with pre- 
judice and contempt. Nor do we find among the early 
Germans that spirit of veneration for the memories of 
the past, and desire to perpetuate them in a vernacular 
literature ; or if they did exist, they were smothered by 
the Catholic priesthood. When the Catholic priests 
gained the ascendancy, they adopted the Latin language 
and used that exclusively for recording events, and they 
pronounced it a sin even to mention by name the old pa- 
gan gods oftener than necessity compelled them to do so. 
Among the Norsemen, on the other hand, and to a 
considerable extent among the English, too, the old 
religion flourished longer; the people cherished their 
traditions; they loved to recite the songs and Sagas, 
in which were recorded the religious faith and brave 
deeds of their ancestors, and cultivated their native 
speech in spite of the priests. In Iceland at least, the 
priests did not succeed in rooting out paganism, if you 
please, before it had developed sufficiently to produce 
those beautiful blossoms, the Elder and Younger Eddas. 
The chief reason of this was, that the people continued 
to use their mother-tongue, in writing as well as in speak- 


ing, so that Latin, the language of the church, never 
got a foothold. It was useless for the monks to try to 
tell Sagas in Latin, for they found but few readers in 
that tongue. An important result of this was, that 
the Saga became the property of the people, and not of 
the favored few. In the next place, our Norse Icelandic 
ancestors took a profound delight in poetry and song. 
The skald sung in the mother-speech, and taking the 
most of the material for his songs and poems from the 
old mythological tales, it was necessary to study and 
become familiar with these, in order that he might be 
able, on the one hand, to understand the productions 
of others, and, on the other, to compose songs himself. 
Among the numerous examples which illustrate how 
tenaciously the Norsemen clung to their ancient divin- 
ities, we may mention the skald Hallfred, who, when 
he was baptized by the king Olaf Tryggvesson, declared 
bravely to the king, that he would neither speak ill of 
the old gods, nor refrain from mentioning them in his 

The reason, then, why we cannot present a complete 
and thoroughly systematic Teutonic or German or Eng- 
lish or Danish or Swedish Mythology, is not that these 
did not at some time exist, but because their records 
are so defective. Outside of Norway and Iceland, 
Christianity, together with disregard of" past memories, 
has swept most of the resources, with which to construct 
them, away from the surface, and there remain only 
deeply buried ruins, which it is difficult to dig up and 
still more difficult to polish and adjust into their orig- 
inal symmetrical and comprehensive form after they 
have been brought to the surface. It is difficult to 
gather all the scattered and partially decayed bones of 
the mythological system, and with the breath of human 


intellect reproduce a living vocal organism. Few have 
attempted to do this with greater success than the 
brothers Grimm, 

For the elucidation of our mythology in its Ger- 
manic form, for instance, the materials, although they 
are not wholly wanting, are yet difficult to make use 
of, since they are widely scattered, and must be sought 
partly in quite corrupted popular legends, partly in 
writings of the middle ages, where they are sometimes 
found interpolated, and where we often least should 
expect to find them. But in its Norse form we have 
ample material for studying the Asa-mythology. Here 
we have as our guide not only a large number of 
skaldic lays, composed while the mythology still flour- 
ished, but even a complete religious system, written 
down, it is true, after Christianity had been introduced 
in Iceland, still, according to all evidence, without the 
Christian ideas having had any special influence upon 
its delineation, or having materially corrupted it. These 
lays, manuscripts, etc., which form the source of Norse 
mythology, will be more fully discussed in another 
chapter of this Introduction. 

We may add further, that if we had, in a complete 
system, the mythology of the Germans, the English, 
etc., we should find, in comparing them with the Norse, 
the same correspondence and identity as we find exist- 
ing between the diflerent branches of the Teutonic 
family of languages. We should find in its essence the 
same mythology in all the Teutonic countries, we should 
find this again dividing itself into two groups, the Ger- 
manic and the Gothic, and the latter group, that is, the 
Gothic, would include the ancient religion of the Scan- 
dinavians, English, and Low Dutch. If we had sufficient 
means for making a comparison, we should find that 


any single myth may have become more prominent^ 
may have become more perfectly developed by one branch 
of the race than by another; one branch of the great 
Teutonic family may have become more attached to a 
certain myth than another, while the myth itself 
would remain identical everywhere. Local myths, that. 
is, myths produced by the contemplation of the visible 
workings of external nature, are colored by the atmos- 
phere of the people and country where they are fostered. 
The god Frey received especial attention by the Asa- 
worshipers in Sweden, but the Norse and Danish Frey 
are still in reality the same god. Thunder produces not 
the same effect upon the people among the towering 
and precipitous mountains of Norway and the level 
plains of Denmark, but the Thor of Norway and of 
Denmark are still the same god; although in Norway 
he is tall as a mountain, his beard is briers, and he 
rushes upon his heroic deeds with the strength and 
frenzy of a berserk, while in Denmark he wanders along 
the sea-shore, a youth, with golden locks and downy 

It is the Asa-mythology, as it was conceived and 
cherished by the Norsemen of Norway and Iceland, 
which the Old Norse literature properly presents to us, 
and hence the myths will in this volume be presented 
in their Norse dress, and hence its name, Norse Mythol- 
ogy. From what has already been said, there is no 
reason to doubt that the Swedes and Danes professed 
in the main the same faith, followed the same religious 
customs, and had the same religious institutions; and 
upon this supposition other English writers upon this 
subject, as for instance Benjamin Thorpe, have entitled 
their books Scandinavian Mythology. But we do not 
know the details of the religious faith, customs and 


institutions of Sweden and Denmark, for all reliable 
inland sources of information are wanting, and all the 
highest authorities on this subject of investigation, such 
as Rudolph Keyser, P. A. Munch, Ernst Sars, N. M. 
Petersen and others, unanimously declare, that although 
the ancient Norse-Icelandic writings not unfrequently 
treat of heathen religious affairs in Sweden and Den- 
mark, yet, when they do, it is always in such a manner 
that the conception is clearly Norse, and the delineation 
is throughout adapted to institutions as they existed in 
Norway. We are aware that there are those who will 
feel inclined to criticise us for not calling this mythol- 
ogy Scandinavian or Northern (a more elastic term), 
but we would earnestly recommend them to examine 
carefully the writings of the above named writers before 
waxing too zealous on the subject. 

As we closed the previous chapter with an extract 
from Thomas Carlyle, so we will close this chapter with 
a brief quotation from an equally eminent scholar, the 
author of Cliips from a German Workshop. In the 
second volume of that work Max Miiller says:* 

There is, after Anglo-Saxon, no language, no literature, no 
mythology so full of interest for the elucidation of the earliest 
history of the race which now inhabits these British isles as the 
Icelandic. Nay, in one respect Icelandic beats every other dia- 
lect of the great Teutonic family of speech, not excepting Anglo- 
Saxon and Old High German and Gothic. It is in Icelandic alone 
that we find complete remains of genuine Teutonic heathendom. 
Gothic, as a language, is more ancient than Icelandic ; but the 
only literary work which we possess in Gothic is a translation 
of the Bible. The Anglo-Saxon literature, with the exception of 
the Beowulf, is Christian. The old heroes of the Niebelunge, 
such as we find them represented in the Suabian epic, have been 
converted into church-going knights ; whereas, in the ballads of 

* Max Miiller's Review of Dr. Dasent's The Norseman in Iceland. 


the Elder Edda, Sigurd and Brynliild appear before us in their 
full pagan grandeur, holding nothing sacrud but their love, and 
defying all laws, human and divine, in the name of that one 
almighty passion. The Icelandic contains the key to many a 
riddle in the English language and to many a mystery in the 
English character. Though the Old Norse is but a dialect of 
the same language which the Angles and Saxons brougiit to 
Britain, though the Norman blood is the same blood that floods 
and ebbs in every German heart, yet there is an accent of defi- 
ance in that rugged northern speech, and a spring of daring 
madness in that throbbing northern heart, which marks the 
Northman wherever he appears, whether in Iceland or in Sicily, 
whether on the Seine or on the Thames. At the beginning of the 
ninth century, when the great northern exodus began, Europe, as 
Dr. Dasent remarks, was in danger of becoming too comfortable. 
The two nations destined to run neck-and-neck in the great race 
of civilization, Frank and Anglo-Saxon, had a tendency to become 
dull and lazy, and neither could arrive at perfection till it had 
been chastised by the Norsemen, and finally forced to admit an 
infusion of northern blood into its sluggish veins. The vigor of 
the various branches of the Teutonic stock may be measured by 
the proportion of Norman blood which they received; and the 
national character of England owes more to the descendants of 
Hrolf Ganger* than to the followers of Hengist and Horsa. 

But what is known of the early history of the Norsemen? 
Theirs was the life of reckless freebooters, and they had no time 
to dream and ponder on the past, which they had left behind in 
Norway. Where they settled as colonists or as rulers, their own 
traditions, their very language, were soon forgotten. Their lan- 
guage has nowhere struck root on foreign ground, even where, 
as in Normandy, they became earls of Rouen, or, as in these isles, 
kings of England. There is but one exception — Iceland. Ice- 
land was discovered, peopled and civilized by Norsemen in the 
ninth century ; and in the nineteenth century the language 
spoken there is still the dialect of Harald Fairhair, and the 
stories told there are still the stories of the Edda, or the Vener- 
able Grandmother. Dr. Dasent gives us a rapid sketch of the 
first landings of the Norse refugees on the fells and forths of 
Iceland. He describes how love of freedom drove the subjects 

*The founder of Normandy in France. 

4 MAX MiJLLER. 49 

of Harald Fairhair forth from their home ; how the Teutonic 
tribes, though they loved their kings, the sons of Odin, and 
'sovereigns by the grace of God, detested the dictatorship of 
Harald. He was a mighty warrior, so says the ancient Saga, and 
laid Norway under him, and put out of the way some of those 
who held districts, and some of them he drove out of the land ; 
and besides, many men escaped out of Norway because of the 
overbearing of Harald Fairhair, for they would not stay to be 
subjects to him. These early emigrants were pagans, and it was 
not till the end of the tenth century that Christianity reached 
the Ultima Thule of Europe. The missionaries, however, who 
converted the freemen of Iceland, were freemen themselves. 
They did not come with the pomp and the pretensions of the 
church of Rome. They preached Christ rather than the Pope ; 
they taught religion rather than theology. Nor were they afraid 
of the old heathen gods, or angry with every custom that was 
not of Christian growth. Sometimes this tolerance may have 
been carried too far, for we read of kings, like Helge, who 
mixed in their faith, who trusted in Christ, but at the same time 
invoked Thor's aid whenever they went to sea or got into any 
difficulty. But on the whole, the kindly feeling of the Icelandic 
priesthood toward the national traditions and customs and preju- 
dices of their converts must have been beneficial. Sons and 
daughters were not forced to call the gods whom their fathers 
and mothers had worshiped, devils ; and they were allowed to 
use the name of Allfadir, whom they had invoked in the prayers 
of their childhood, when praying to Him who is our Father in 

The Icelandic missionaries had peculiar advantages in their 
relation to the system of paganism which they came to combat. 
Nowhere else, perhaps, in the whole history of Christianity, has 
tlie missionary been brought face to face with a race of gods 
who were believed by their own worshipers to be doomed to 
death. The missionaries had only to proclaim that Balder wat* 
dead, that the mighty Odin and Thor were dead. The people 
knew that these gods were to die, and the message of the One 
Everliving God must have touched their ears and their hearts 
with comfort and joy. Thus, while in Germany the priests 
were occupied for a long time in destroying every trace of hea- 
thenism, in condemning every ancient lay as the work of the 

50 MAX MiJLLEK. g 

devil, in felling sacred trees and abolishing national customs, 
the missionaries of Iceland were able to take a more charitable 
view of the past, and they became the keepers of those very 
poems and laws and proverbs and Runic inscriptions which on 
the continent had to be put down with inquisitorial cruelty. 
The men to whom the collection of the ancient pagan poetry of 
Iceland is commonly ascribed were men of Christian learning : 
the one,* the founder of a public school ; the other.f famous as 
the author of a history of the North, the Heimskringla (the 
Home-Circle — the World). It is owing to their labors that we 
know anything of the ancient religion, the traditions, the max- 
ims, the habits of the Norsemen. Dr. Dasent dwells most fully 
on the religious system of Iceland, which is the same, at least 
in its general outline, as that believed in by all the members of 
the Teutonic family, and may truly be called one of the various 
dialects of the primitive religioiis and mythological language of 
the Aryan race. There is nothing more interesting than reli- 
gion in the whole history of man. By its side, poetry and art, 
science and law, sink into comparative insignificance. 

♦Saemund the Wise. tSnorre Sturleson. 



DE. DASEISTT says the Norse mythology may hold 
its own against any other in the world. The fact 
that it is the religion of our forefathers ought to be 
enough to commend it to our attention; but it may be 
pardonable in us to harbor even a sense of pride, if we 
find, for instance, that the mythology of our Gothic 
ancestors sufiers nothing, but I'ather is the gainer in 
many respects by a comparison with that world-famed 
paganism of the ancient Gr reeks. We would therefore 
invite the attention of the reader to a brief comparison 
between the Norse and Greek systems of mythology. 

A comparison between the two systems is both inter- 
esting and important. They are the two grandest sys- 
tems of cosmogony and theogony of which we have 
record, but the reader will generously pardon the writer 
if he ventures the statement already at the outset, that 
of the two the Norse system is the grander. These two, 
the Greek and the Norse, have, to a greater extent than 
all other systems of mythology combined, influenced the 
civilization, determined the destinies, socially and polit- 
ically, of the European nations, and shaped their polite 
literature. In literature it might indeed seem that tlie 
Greek mythology has played a more important part. 
We admit that it has acted a more conspicuous part, but 
we imagine that there exists a wonderful blindness, 



among many writers, to the transcendent influence of 
the blood and spirit of ancient Norseland on North 
European, including English and American, character, 
which character has in turn stamped itself upon our 
literature (as, for instance, in the case of Shakespeare, 
the Thor among all Teutonic writers) ; and, furthermore, 
we rejoice in the absolute certainty to which we have 
arrived by studying the signs of the times, that the com- 
parative ignorance, which has prevailed in this country 
and in England, of the history, literature, ancient religion 
and institutions of a people so closely allied to us by 
race, national characteristics, and tone of mind as the 
Norsemen, will sooner or later be removed ; that a school 
of Norse philology and antiquities will ere long flourish 
on the soil of the Vinland of our ancestors, and that there 
is a grand future, not far hence, when Norse mythology 
will be copiously reflected in our elegant literature, and 
in our fine arts, painting, sculpturing and music. 

The Norse mythology differs widely from the Greek. 
They are the same in essence ; that is to say, both are a 
recognition of the forces and phenomena of nature as 
gods and demons; but all mythologies are the same in 
this respect, and the difierences, between the various 
mythological systems, consist in the different ways in 
which nature has impressed different peoples, and in the 
different manner in which they have comprehended the 
universe, and personified or deified the various forces 
and phenomena of nature. In other words, it is in the 
ethical clothing and elaboration of the myths, that the 
different systems of mythology differ one from the other. 
In the Vedic and Homeric poets the germs of mythology 
are the same as in the Eddas of Norseland, but this 
common stock of materials, that is, the forces and phe- 
nomena of nature, has been moulded into an infinite 


variety of shajjes by the story-tellers of the Hindoos, 
Greeks and Norsemen. 

Memory among the Greeks is Mnemosyne, the mother 
of the muses, while among the Norsemen it is repre- 
sented by Munin, one of the ravens perched upon Odin's 
shoulders. The masculine ^eimdal, god of the rainbow 
among tlie Norsemen, we find in Greece as the feminine 
Iris, who charged the clouds with water from the lakes 
and rivers, in order- that it might fall again upon the 
earth in gentle fertilizing showers. She was daughter 
of Thaumas and Elektra, granddaughter of Okeanos, 
and the swift-footed gold-winged messenger of the gods. 
The Norse Balder is the Greek Adonis. Frigg, the 
mother of Balder, mourns the death of her son, while 
Aphrodite sorrows for her special favorite, the young 
rosy shepherd, Adonis. Her grief at his death, which 
was caused by a wild boar, was so great that she would 
not allow the lifeless body to be taken from her arms 
until the gods consoled her by decreeing that her lover 
might continue to live half the year, during the spring 
and summer, on the earth, while she might spend the 
other half with him in the lower world. Thus Balder and 
Adonis are both summer gods, and Frigg and Aphrodite 
are goddesses of gardens and flowers. The Norse god 
of Thunder, Thor (Thursday), who, among the Norse- 
men, is only the protector of heaven and earth, is the 
Greek Zeus, the father of gods and men. The gods of 
the Greeks are essentially free from decay and death. 
They live forever on Olympos, eating ambrosial food and 
drinking the nectar of immortality, while in their veins 
flows not immortal blood, but the imperishable ichor. 
In the Norse mythology, on the other hand, Odin him- 
self dies, and is swallowed by the Fenriswolf ; Thor con- 
quers the Midgard-serpent, but retreats only nine paces 


and falls poisoned by the serpent's breath ; and the body 
of the good and beautiful Balder is consumed in the 
flames of his funeral pile. The Greek dwelt in bright 
and sunny lands, where the change from summer to 
winter brought with it no feelings of overpowering 
gloom. The outward nature exercised a cheering influ- 
ence upon him, making him happy, and this happiness 
he exhibited in his mythology. The Greek cared less to 
commune with the silent mountains, moaning winds, 
and heaving sea; he spent his life to a great extent in 
the cities, where his mind would become more interested 
in human aflFairs, and where he could share his joys and 
sorrows with his kinsmen. While the Greek thus was 
brought up to the artificial society of the town, the 
hardy Norseman was inured to the rugged independence 
of the country. While the life and the nature surround- 
ing it, in the South, would naturally have a tendency to 
make the Greek more human, or rather to deify that 
which is human, the popular life and nature in the 
North would have a tendency to form in the minds of 
the Norsemen a sublimer and profounder conception of 
the universe. The Greek clings with tenacity to the 
beautiful earth ; the earth is his mother. Zeus, sur- 
rounded by his gods and goddesses, sits on his golden 
throne, on Olympos, on the top of the mountain, in the 
cloud. But that is not lofty enougli for the spirit of 
the Norsemen. Odin's Valhal is in heaven ; nay, Odin i 
himself is not the highest god ; Muspelheim is situated 
above Asaheim, and in Muspelheim is Gimle, where 
reigns a god, who is mightier than Odin, the god whom 
Hyndla ventures not to name. 

In Heroes and Hero Worsliip, Thomas Carlyle makes 
the following striking comparison between Norse and 
Greek mythology : To me, he says, there is in the 


Norse system something very genuine, very great and 
manlike. A broad simplicity, rusticity, so very different 
from the light gracefulness of the old Greek paganism, 
distinguishes this Norse system. It is thought, the gen- 
uine thought of deep, rude, earnest minds, fairly opened 
to the things about them, a face-to-face and heart-to- 
heart inspection of things — the first characteristic of all 
good thought in all times. Not graceful lightness, half 
sport, as in the Greek paganism ; a certain homely 
truthfulness and rustic strength, a great rude sincerity, 
discloses itself here. Thus Carlyle. 

As the visible workings of nature are in the great 
and main features the same everywhere; in all climes 
we find the vaulted sky with its sun, moon, myriad 
stars and flitting clouds ; the sea with its surging bil- 
lows; the land with its manifold species of plants and 
animals, its elevations and depressions ; we find cold, 
heat, rain, winds, etc., although all these may vary widely 
in color, brilliancy, depth, height, degree, and other qual- 
ities ; and as the minds aud hearts of men cherish hope, 
fear, anxiety, passion, etc., although they may be influ- 
enced and actuated by them in various ways and to 
various extents ; and as mythology is the impersonation 
of nature's forces and phenomena as contemplated by the 
human mind and heart, so all mythologies, no matter 
in what clime they originated and were fostered, must 
of necessity have their stock of materials, their ground- 
work or foundation and frame in common, while they 
may differ widely from each other in respect to peculiar 
characteristics, both in the ethical elaboration of the 
myth and in the architectural effect of the tout ejisemble. 
Thus we have a tradition about a deluge, for instance, 
in nearly every country on the globe, but no two nations 
tell it alike. In Genesis we read of Noah and his ark, 


and how the waters increased greatly upon the earth, 
destroying all flesh that moved upon the earth except- 
ing those who were with him in the ark. In Greece, 
Deukalion and his wife Pyrrha become the founders of 
a new race of men. According to the Greek story, a great 
flood had swept away the whole human race, except 
one pair, Deukalion and Pyrrha, who, as the flood 
abated, landed on Mt. Parnassos, and thence descend- 
ing, picked up stones and cast them round about, as 
Zeus had commanded. From these stones sprung a new 
i-ace — men from those cast by Deukalion, and women 
from those cast by his wife. In Norseland, Odin and 
his two brothers, Vile and Ve, slew the giant Ymer, and 
when he fell, so much blood flowed from his wounds, 
that the whole race of frost-giants was drowned, except 
a single giant, who saved himself with his household 
in a skiff (ark), and from him descended a new race of 
frost-giants. Now this is not a tradition carried from 
one place to the other ; it is a natural expression of the 
same thought; it is a similar effort to account for the 
origin of the land and the race of man. A people devel- 
ops its mythology in the same manner as it develops its 
language. The Norse mythology is related to the Greek 
mythology to the same extent that the Norse 'language 
is related to the Greek language, and no more; and 
comparative mythology, when the scholar wields the 
pen, is as interesting as comparative philology. 

The Greeks have their chaos, the all-embracing space, 
the Norsemen have Ginungagap, the yawning abyss 
between Niflheim (the nebulous world) and Muspelheim 
(the world of fire). The Greeks have their titans, cor- 
responding in many respects to the Norse giants. The 
Greeks tell of the Melian nymphs ; the Norsemen of 
the elves, etc. ; but these comparisons are chiefly inter- 


esting for the purpose of studying the diflferences between 
the Norse and Greek mind, which reflects itself in the 
expression of the thought. 

The hard stone weeps tears, both in Greece and in 
Norseland; but let us notice how differently it is 
expressed. In Greece, Niobe, robbed of her children, 
was transformed into a rugged rock, down which tears 
trickled silently. She becomes a stone and still con- 
tinues her weeping — 

Et lacrymas etiamnum marujora manant, 

as the poet somewhere has it. In Norseland all nature 
laments the sad death of Balder, even the stones weep 
for him (grata Baldr). 

Let us take another idea, and notice how diiferently 
the words symbolize the same truth or thought in 
Judea, in Greece, and in Norseland. In Judea : 

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how 
people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich 
cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she 
threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto 
him his disciples and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
that this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which 
have cast into the treasury : for all they did cast in of their 
abundance ; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, 
even all her living. 

In Greece : 

A rich Thessalian offered to the temple at Delphi one 
hundred oxen with golden horns. A poor citizen from Hermion 
took as much meal from his sack as he could hold between two 
fingers, and he threw it into the fire that burned on the altar. 
Pythia said, that the gift of the poor man was more pleasing to 
the gods than that of the rich Thessalian. 

In Norseland the Elder Edda has it : 


Knowest thou how to pray? 
Knowest thou how to offer ? 
Better not pray at all 
Than to offer too much. 
Better is nothing sent 
Than too much consumed. 

In these few and simple words are couched the 
same thought as in the Jewish and Greek parables just 
given. It is this identity in thought, with diversity 
of depth, breadth, beauty, simplicity, etc., in the expres- 
sion or symbol that characterizes the differences between 
all mythological systems. Each has its own peculiari- 
ties stamped upon it, and in these peculiarities the 
spirit of the people, their tendency to thorough investi- 
gation or superficiality, their strength or weakness, their 
profoundness or frivolity, are reflected as in a mirror. 

The beauty of the Greek mythology consists not so 
much in the system, considered as a whole, as in the 
separate single groups of myths. Each group has its 
own centei' around which it revolves, each group moves 
in its own sphere, and there develops its own charming 
perfection, without regard to the effect upon the system 
of mythology considered as a whole. Each group is 
exquisite, and furnishes an inexhaustible fountain of 
legendary narrative, but the central thought that should 
bind all these beautiful groups into one grand whole is 
weak. Nay, the complex multiplicity into which it 
constantly kept developing, as long as the Greek mind 
was in vigorous activity, was the cause that finally shat- 
tered it. Is not this same spirit, which we find so 
distinctly developed in the Gi'eek mythology, this want 
of a centralizing thought, most wonderfully and per- 
fectly reflected in the social and political characteristics 
of the Greek states, and in all the more recent Eo- 
munce nations? Each Greek state developed a pecu- 


liar beauty and perfection of its own; but between the 
different states (Sparta, Athens, etc.,) there was no 
strong bond of union which could keep them together, 
and hence all the feuds and civil wars and final disso- 
lution. In the Norse mythology, on the other hand, 
the centralizing idea or thought is its peculiar feature; 
in it lies its strength and beauty. In the Norse my- 
thology, the one myth and the one divinity is inextri- 
cably in communion with the other ; and thus, also, 
the idea of unity, centralization, is a prominent feature, 
and one of the chief characteristics of the Teutonic 
nations. While the Greek mythology foreshadowed all 
the petty states of Greece, as well as those of South 
Europe and South America, the Norse mythology fore- 
shadowed the political and social destinies of united 
Scandinavia, united Great Britain, united Germany, and 
the United States of North America. When the Greeks 
unite, they fall. We Northerners live only to be united. 
As we would be led to suppose, from a study of the 
physical and climatical peculiarities of Greece and 
Norseland, we find that the Greek mythology forms an 
epic poem, and' that the Norse is a tragedy. Not only 
the mythology, considered as a whole, but even the 
character of its speech, and of its very words and 
phrases, must necessarily be suggested and modified by 
the external features of the country. Thus in Greece, 
where the sun's rays never scorch, and where the north- 
ern winds never pierce, we naturally find in the speech 
of the people, brilliancy rather than gloom, life rather 
than decay, and constant renovation rather than pro- 
longed lethargy. But in the frozen-bound regions of 
the North, where the long arms of the glaciers clutch 
the valleys in their cold embrace, and the death-portend- 
ing avalanches cut their way down the mountain-sides. 


the tongue of the people would, with a peculiar inten- 
sity of feeling, dwell upon the tragedy of nature. 

The Danish poet Grundtvig expressed a similar idea 
more than sixty years ago, when he said that the Asa- 
Faith unfolds in five acts the most glorious drama of 
victory that ever has been composed, or ever could be 
composed, by any mortal poet. And Hauch defines 
these five acts as follows: 

Act 1. The Creation. 

Act II. The time preceding the death of Balder. 
Act III. The death of Balder. 

Act IV. The time immediately succeeding the death of Balder. 

Act V. RagDarok, the Twilight of the gods, that is, the decline 

and fall immediately followed by the regeneration of the world. 

It is an inestimable peculiarity of the Norse mythol- 
ogy, that it, in addition to beginning with a theogony 
(birth of the gods), also ends with a theoktony (death 
of the gods). In the Greek mythology, the drama 
lacks the fifth or final act, and we have only a prosaic 
account of how the people at length grew tired of their 
gods, and left them when they became old and feeble. 
But the Eddas have a theoktonic myth, in which the 
heroic death of the gods is sung with the same poetic 
spirit as their youthful exploits and victories. As the 
shades of night flee before the morning dawn, thus 
Valhal's gods had to sink into the earth, when the 
idea, that an idol is of no consequence in this world, 
first burst upon the minds of the idol-worshipers. This 
idea spontaneously created the myth of Ragnarok. All 
the elements of its mythical form were foreshadowed in 
the older group of Norse conceptions. The idea of 
Eagnarok was suggested already in the Creation ; for 
the gods are there represented as proceeding from giants, 
that is, from an evil, chaotic source, and, moreover, that 


which can be born must die. The Greeks did not 
release the titans from their prisons in Tartaros and 
bring them up to enter the last struggle with the gods. 
Signs of such a contest flitted about like clouds in the 
deep-blue southern sky, but they did not gather into a 
deluging thunder-storm. The ideas were too broken 
and scattered to be united into one grand picture. 
The Gi'eek was so much allured by the pleasures of 
life, that he could find no time to fathom its depths 
or rise above it. And hence, when the glories of this 
life had vanished, there remained nothing but a vain 
shadow, a lower world, where the pale ghosts of the 
dead knew no greater happiness than to receive tidings 
from this busy world. 

The Norseman willingly yields the prize to the Greek 
when the question is of precision in details and external 
adornment of the figures; but when we speak of deep 
significance and intrinsic power, the !N"orseman points 
quietly at Eagnarok, the Twilight of the gods, and 
the Greek is silent. 

The Goth, as has before been indicated, concentrated 
life; the Greek divided it into parcels. Thus the 
Greek mythology is frivolous, the Norse is profound. 
The frivolous mind lives but to enjoy the passing mo- 
ment; the profound mind reflects, considers the past 
and the future. The Greek abandoned himself wholly 
to the pleasures of this life, regardless of the past 
or future. The Norseman accepted life as a good 
gift, but he knew that he was merely its transient pos- 
sessor. Over every moment of life hangs a threatening 
sword, which may in the next moment prove fatal. 
Life possesses no hour of the future. And this is the 
peculiar characteristic of the heroic life in the North, 
that our ancestors were powerfully impressed with the 


uncertainty of life. They constantly witnessed the 
interchange of life and death, and this nourished in 
them the thought that life is not worth keeping, for 
no one knows how soon it may end. Life itself has 
no value, but the object constantly to be held in view 
is to die an honorable death. While we are permitted 
to live, let us strive to die with honor, it is said in 
Bjarkemaal; and in the lay of Hamder of the Elder 
Edda we read: 

Well have we fought; 

On slaughtered Goths we stand, 

On those fallen by the sword, 

Like eagles on a branch. 

Great glory we have gained ; 

Though now or to-morrow we shall die, — 

No one lives till eve 

Against the norns' decree. 

It is this same conception of the problem of life 
that in the Christian religion has assumed a diviner 
form. Though his ideas were clothed in a ruder form, 
the Norseman still reached the same depth of thought 
as when the Christian says: I am ready to lay down 
my life, if I may but die happy, die a child of God; 
for what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole 
world, and lose his own soul? 

The Norseman always concentrated his ideas as much 
as possible. For this reason he knew but three sins — 
perjury, murder, and adultery; that is, sin against God, 
sin against the state, and sin against fellow-man ; and 
all these are in fact but one sin — deceitfulness. In 
the same manner the Norseman concentrated his ideas 
in regard to the punishment of sin. When the Eddas 
tell us about the punishment of the wicked, they sum 
it all up in Naastrand (the strand of corpses), that place 


far from the sun, that large and terrible cave, the doors 
of which open to the north. This cave is built of 
serpents wattled together, and the heads of all the ser- 
pents turn into the cave, filling it with streams of 
poison, in which perjurers, murderers and adulterers 
have to wade. The suffering is terrible; gory heart*s 
hang outside of their breasts; their faces are dyed in 
blood; strong venom-dragons fiercely run through their 
hearts; their hands are riveted together with ever- 
burning stones ; their clothes are wrapped in flames ; 
remorseless ravens tear their eyes from their heads: 

But all the horrors 

You cannot know, 

That Hel's condemned endure ; 

Sweet sins there 

Bitterly are punished. 

False pleasures 

Reap true pain. 

The point to be observed is, that all the punish- 
ment here described is the same for all the wicked. 

But with this, the versatile Greek is not content. 
He multiplies the sins and the punishments. Tartaros 
is full of despair and tears, and the wicked there suffer 
a variety of tortures. Enormous vultures continually 
gnaw the liver of Tityos, but it always grows again. 
Ixion is lashed with serpents to a wheel, which a 
strong wind drives continually round and round. Tan- 
talos sufiers from an unceasing dread of being crushed 
by a great rock that hangs over his head; he stands in 
a stream of water that flows up to his throat, and he 
almost perishes from thirst; whenever he bends his 
head to drink the water recedes; delicious fruits hang 
over his head, whenever he stretches out his hand they 
evade his grasp. Thus it is to be tantalized. The 


Danaides must till a cistern that has holes in the bot- 
tom; all the water they pour in runs out equally fast. 
Sisyphos, sweating and all out of breath, rolls his huge 
stone up the mountain side; when he reaches the sum- 
mit, the stone rolls down again. 

The fundamental idea is always the same. It is 
always punishment for sin ; but it is expressed and 
illustrated in so many different ways. The variety 
enhances the beauty. The Greek mythology is rich, 
for profuseness of illustration is wealth. The Norse 
mythology is poor, because it is so strong; it consumes 
all its strength in the profoundness of its thought. 
The Norse mythology excels in the concentratedness 
and strength of the whole system; the Greek excels in 
the beauty of the separate groups of myths. The one 
is a religion of strengtli, the other of ieauty. 

The influence that the outward features of a coun- 
try exercise upon the thoughts and feelings of men, 
especially during the vigorous, imaginative, poetic and 
prophetic childhood of a nation, can hardly be over- 
estimated. Necessarily, therefore, do we find this influ- 
ence aflFecting and modifying a nation's mythology, 
which is a child-like people's thoughts and feelings, 
contemplating nature reflected m a system of religion. 
Hence, it is eminently fitting, in comparing the Norse 
mythology with the Greek, to take a look at the home 
of the Norsemen. We, therefore, cordially invite the 
traveler from the smooth-beaten tracks of southern Eu- 
rope to the mountains, lakes, valleys and fjords of 
Norseland. You may come in midsummer, when Bal- 
der (the summer sunlight) rules supreme, when the 
radiant dawn and glowing sunset kiss each other and 
go hand in hand on the mountain tops ; but we would 
also invite you to tarry until Balder is slain, when the 


wintry gloom, with its long nights, sits brooding over 
the country, and Loke (Thok, tire) weeps his arid tears 
(sparks) over the desolation he has wrought. 

Norway is dark, cloudy, severe, grand, and majestic. 
Greece is light, variegated, mild, and beautiful. No one 
can long more deeply for the light of summer, with its 
mild and gentle breezes from the south, than the Norse- 
man. When he has pondered on his own thoughts dur- 
ing the long winter, when the sun entirely or nearly 
disappeared from above the horizon, and nothing but 
northern lights flickered and painted the colors of the 
rainbow over his head, he welcomes the spring sun with 
enthusiastic delight. It was this deep longing for Balder 
that drove swarms of Norsemen on viking expeditions 
to France, Spain, and England; through the pillars of 
Hercules to Italy, Greece, Constantinople and Palestine, 
and over the surging main to Iceland, Greenland and 
Vinland. It is this deep longing for Balder that every 
year brings thousands of Norsemen to alight upon our 
shores and scatter themselves to their numberless settle- 
ments in these United States. Still every Norse emi- 
grant, if he has aught in him worthy of his race, 
thinks he shall once more see those weird, gigantic, 
snow-capped mountains, that stretched their tall heads 
far above the clouds and seemed to look half anxiously, 
half angrily after him as his bark was floating across 
the deep sea. 

There is something in the natural scenery of Nor- 
way — a peculiar blending of the grand, the picturesque, 
the gigantic, bewildering and majestic. There is some- 
thing that leaves you in bewildering amazement, when 
you have seen it, and makes you ask yourself, Was it 
real or was it only a dream ? Norway is in fact one 
huge imposing rock, and its valleys are but great clefts 


in it. Through these clefts the rivers, fed by vast gla- 
ciers upon the mountains, find their way to the sea. 
They come from the distance, now musically and chat- 
tingly meandering their way beneath the willows, now 
tumbling down the slopes, reeking and distorted by the 
rocks that oppose them, until they reach some awful 
precipice and tumble down some eight hundred to a 
thousand feet in a single leap into the depths below, 
where no human being ever yet set his foot. We are 
not overdrawing the picture. You cannot get to the 
foot of such falls as the Voring Force or Ejukan Force, 
but you may look over the precipice from above and see 
the waters pouring like fine and fleecy wool into the 
seething caldron, where you can discern through the 
vapory mists shoots of foam at the bottom, like rockets 
of water, radiating in every direction. You hear a low 
rumbling sound around you, and the very rock vibrates 
beneath your feet; and as you hang half giddy over 
the cliff, clasping your arms around some young birch- 
tree that tremblingly leans over the brink of the steep, 
and turn your eyes to the huge mountain mass that 
breasts you, — its black, melancholy sides seemingly 
within a stone's throw, and its snow-white head far in 
the clouds above, — your thoughts involuntarily turn to 
him, the God, whom the skald dare not name, to him 
at whose bidding Gausta Field and Eeeking Force 
sprang from Ginungagap, from the body of the giant 
Ymer, from chaos. You look longer upon this won- 
derful scene, and you begin to think of Ragnarok, of 
the Twilight of the gods. Once seen, and the grand 
picture, which defies the brush of the painter, will for- 
ever afterwards float before your mind like a dream. 

Make a journey by steamer on some of those noble 
and magnificent fjords on the west coast of Norseland. 


The whole scenery looks like a moving panorama of 
the finest description. The dark mountains rise almost 
perpendicularly from the water's edge to an enormous 
height; their summits, crowned with ice and snow, stand 
out sharp and clear against the bright blue sky ; and 
the ravines on the mountain tops are filled with huge 
glaciers, that clasp their frosty arms around the valley, 
and send down, like streams of tears along the weather- 
beaten cheeks of the mountains, numerous waterfalls and 
cascades, falling in an endless variety of graceful shapes 
from various altitudes into the fjord below. Sometimes 
a solitary peak lifts its lordly head a thousand feet 
clear above the surrounding mountains, and towering 
like a monarch over all, it defiantly refuses to hold com- 
munion with any living thing save the eagle. Here and 
there a force apj)ears, like a strip of silvery fleecy cloud, 
suspended from the brow of the mountain, and dashing 
down more than two thousand feet in one leap ; and all 
this marvelously grand scenery, from base to peak, 
stands reflected, as deep as it is lofty, in the calm, clear, 
sea-green water of the fjord, perfect as in a mirror. 

There is no storm ; the deep water of the fjord is 
silent and at rest. Not even the flight of a single bird 
ruflSes its glassy surface. As the steamer glides gently 
along between the rocky walls, you hear no sound save 
the monotonous throbbing of the screw and the conse- 
quent splashing of the water. All else is still as death. 
The forces hang in silence all around, occasionally 
overarched by rainbows suspended in the rising mist. 
The naked mountains have a sombre look, that would 
make you melancholy were it not for the overpowering 
grandeur. Sunshine reaches the water only when the 
sun's rays fall nearly vertically, in consequence of the 
immense height of the mountains' sides, whose enor- 


mous shadows almost perpetually overshade the narrow 
fjord. The noouday sun paints a streak of delicate 
palish green on one side, forming a striking contrast 
to the other dark overshadowed side of the profound 
fjord. It is awe-inspiring. It is stupendous. It is sol- 
emnly grand. You can but fancy yourself in a fairy 
land, with elves and sprites and neckens and trolls 
dancing in sportive glee all around you. 

Words can paint no adequate picture of the stu- 
pendousness, majesty and grandeur of Norse scenery; 
but can the reader wonder any longer that this coun- 
try has given to the world such marvelous productions 
in poetry, music and the fine arts ? Nay, what is more 
to our purpose at present, would you not look for a grand 
and marvelous mythological system from the poetic and 
imaginative childhood of the nation that inhabits this 
land ? Knock, and it shall be opened unto you ! and 
entering the solemn halls and palaces of the gods, 
where all is cordiality and purity, you will find there 
perfectly reflected the wild and tumultuous conflict of 
the elements, strong rustic pictures, full of earnest and 
deep thought, awe-inspiring and wonderful. You will 
find that simple and martial religion which inspired 
the early Norsemen and developed them like a tree full 
of vigor extending long branches over all Europe. You 
will find that simple and martial religion which gave 
the Norsemen that restless unconquerable spirit, apt to 
take fire at the very mention of subjection and con- 
straint; that religion which forged the instruments 
that broke the fetters manufactured by the Eoman 
emperors, destroyed tyrants and slaves, and taught 
men that nature having made all free and equal, no 
other reason but their mutual happiness could be 
assigned for making them dependent. You will find 


that simple and martial religion which was cherished 
by those vast multitudes which, as Milton says, the 
populous North 

poured from her frozen loins to pass 

Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons 
Came like a deluge on the South and spread 
Beneath Gibraltar and the Libyan sands. 

But it may be necessary for the reader to refresh him- 
self with a few draughts of that excellent beverage kept 
in Mimer's gushing fountain, and drink with his glit- 
tering horn, before he will be willing to accept these 
and many more such statements that we will make in 
the course of this introduction. 

To return to our theme. The gods of Norseland 
are stern and awe-inspiring; those of Greece are gentle 
and lovely. In the Norse mythology we find deep devo- 
tion, but seldom tears. In the G-reek, there are violent 
emotions and the tears flow copiously. In Norseland, 
there is plenty of imagination ; but it is not of that 
light, variegated, butterfly, soap-bubble nature as in 
Greece. In the Norse mythology there is plenty of cor- 
diality and sincerity, and the gods treat you hospitably 
to flesh of the boar, Sa3hrimner; and the valkyries will 
give you deep draughts from bowls flowing with ale. 
In Greece there is gracefulness, a perfect etiquette, and 
you dine on ambrosia and nectar ; there Eros and Psyche, 
the graces and muses, hover about you like heavenly 
cherubs. Graces and muses are wanting in Norseland, 
The Norse mythology is characterized throughout by a 
deep and genuine sincerity; the Greek, on the other 
hand, by a sublime gracefulness; but, with Carlyle, we 
think that sincerity is better than grace. 

But the coniparison between Norse and Greek 
mythology is too vast a field for us to attempt to do 


justice to it in this volume. It would be an interest- 
ing work to show how Norse and Greek mythologies 
respectively have colored the religious, social, political 
and literary character of Greek and Eomance peoples 
on the one hand, and Norsemen and Teutons on the 
other. Somebody will undoubtedly in due time be 
inspired to undertake such a task. We must study 
both, and when they are harmoniously blended in our 
nature, we must let them together shape our political, 
social and literary destinies, and, tempered by the 
Mosaic-Christian religion, they may be entitled to some 
consideration even in our religious life. 



IN all that has been said up to this time Koman 
mythology has not once been mentioned. Why 
not? Properly speaking, there is no such thing. It 
is an historical fact, that nearly the whole Roman 
literature, especially that part of it which may be called 
belles-lettres, is scarcely anything but imitation. It 
did not, like the Greek and Old Norse, spring from the 
popular mind, by which it was cherished through 
centuries ; but at least a large portion of it was 
produced for pay and for ornament, mostly in the time 
of the tyrant x\ugustus, to tickle his ear and gild those 
chains that were artfully forged to fetter the peoples of 
southern Europe. This is a dry but stubborn truth, 
and it is wonderful with what tenacity the schools in 
all civilized lands have clung to the Roman or Latin 
language, after it had become nothing but a mere 
corpse ; as though it could be expected that any 
genuine culture could be derived from this dead 

It is, however, an encouraging fact that the Teutonic 
races are indicating a tendency to emancipate them- 
selves from the fetters of Roman bondage, and happy 
should we be if our English words were emancipated 
therefrom. We should then use neither emancipate, nor 
tendency, nor indicate, but would have enough of 
Gothic words to use in place of them. Ay, the signs 



of the times are encouragiug. Look at what is being 
done at Oxford and Cambridge, in London and in 
Edinburgh. Behold what has been done during these 
later years by Dasent, Samuel Laing, Thorpe, Carlyle, 
Max Miiller, Cleasby, Vigfusson, Magniisson, Morris, 
Hjaltalin, and others. And look at the publications of 
the Clarendon press, which is now publishing Icelandic 
Sagas in the original text. This is right. Every 
scrap of Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon literature must 
be published, for we must see what those old heroes, 
who crushed Rome and instituted a new order of 
things, thought in every direction. We must find out 
what their aspirations were. To the credit of the 
Scandinavians it must here be said, that they began to 
appreciate their old Icelandic literature much sooner 
than the rich Englishman realized the value of the 
Anglo-Saxon, and that the English are indebted to 
Rasmus Rask, the Danish scholar, for the most valuable 
contribution to Anglo-Saxon studies; but it must also 
be admitted, in the first place, that the Scandinavians 
have done far too little for Icelandic, and, in the next 
place, that without a preparation in Icelandic, but little 
progress could be made in the study of Anglo-Saxon. 
But England, with its usual liberality in literary 
matters, is now rapidly making amends for the past. 
And well she might. In the publication of the 
Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon literature she is the greatest 
gainer, for it is nothing less than a bridge, that will 
unite her present and past history. Maurer and 
Mobius are watching with Argos eyes the interests of 
Teutonic studies in Germany. 

Greek should be studied, for that is no imitation. 
It is indigenous. It is a crystal clear stream flowing 
unadulterated from the Castalian fountain of Parnassos. 


Our warfare^ therefore, is not against Greek, but against 
Latin. We have suffered long enough with our necks 
under the ponderous Roman yoke in all its various 
forms ; take it as fetters forged by the Roman emperors, 
as crosiers in the hands of the Roman popes, or as 
rods in the hands of the Roman school-masters. The 
Goths severed the fetters of the Roman emperors, 
Luther and the Germans broke the crosiers of the 
Roman popes, but all the Teutons have submissively 
kissed the rod of the Roman school-master, although 
this was the most dangerous of the three : it was the 
deadly weapon concealed in the hand of tlie assassin. 

The Romans were a people of robbers both in a 
political and in a literary sense. Nay, the Roman writ- 
ers themselves tell us that the divine founder of the 
city, Romulus, was a captain of robbers; that Mars, 
the god of war, was his father ; and that a tvolf (rapa- 
city), descending from the mountains to drink, ran at 
the cry of the child and fed him under a fig-tree, 
caressing and licking him as if he had been her own 
son, the infant hanging on to her as if she had been 
his mother. This Romulus began his great exploits by 
killing his own brother. When the new city seemed 
to want women, to insure its duration, he proclaimed 
a magnificent feast throughout all the neighboring vil- 
lages, at which feast were presented, among other things, 
the terrible shows of gladiators. While the strangers 
were most intent upon the spectacle, a number of Ro- 
man youths rushed in among the Sabines, seized the 
youngest and fairest of their wives and daughters, and 
carried them off by violence. In vain the parents and 
husbands protested against this breach of hospitality. 
This same Romulus ended his heroic career by being 
assassinated by his friends, or, as others say, torn in 


2)ieces in the senate-house. Certain it is that the Ro- 
mans murdered him, and then declared him the guard- 
ian spirit of the city ; thus worshiping as a god, by 
name Quirinus, him whom they could not bear as a 
king. Such falsehoods as the one the senate invented, 
when they said that Romulus, whom they had mur- 
dered, had been taken up into heaven, the Roman 
writers tell us were constantly taught to the Romans 
by Numa Pompilius, and by other Sabine and Etrurian 
priests; and such instruction laid the foundation of 
their myths. The history of Romulus is, in fact, in 
miniature, the history of Rome. 

But in spite of this, and much else that can in justice 
be said against Rome and Latin, we cannot afford to 
throw the language and literature of the Romans en- 
tirely overboard. Their history was too remarkable for 
that; besides, many scribbled in Latin dowai through 
the middle ages, and the Latin language has played so 
conspicuous a part in English literature, and in the 
sciences, that no educated man can very well do with- 
out it. What we respectfully object to is making it 
the foundation of all education, this bringing the scholar 
iqj, so to speak, on Latin language, history and litera- 
ture; this nourishing and moulding the tender heart 
and mind on Roman tJioiight, — thus making the man, 
intellectually and morally, a slave bound in Roman 
chains, while we free-born Goths, the descendants of 
Odin and Thor, ought to begin our education and 
receive our first impressions from our own ancestors. 
The tree should draw its nourishment from its own 
roots; and we Americans are the youngest and most 
vigorous branch of that glorious Gothic tree, the beau- 
tiful and noble Ygdrasil in the Norse cosmogony, whose 
three grand roots strike down among the Anglo-Saxons, 


Scandinaviaus, aud Germans. In order fully to com- 
prehend the man, we must study the life of the child ; 
and in order to comprehend ourselves as a people, we 
must study our own ancient history and literature and 
make ourselves thoroughly acquainted with the imagi- 
native and prophetic childhood of the Teutonic race. 
We must give far more attention than we do, first, to 
English and Anglo-Saxon, and we must, as we have 
heard Dr. S. H. Carpenter, of the University of Wis- 
consin, most truthfully remark, begin with the most 
modern English, and then follow it step by step, cen- 
tury by century, back to the most ancient Anglo-Saxon. 
A living language can be learned ten times as fast as a 
dead one, and we would apply Dr. Carpenters* princi- 
ple still further. We would make one of the living 
Romanic languages (French, Italian, or Spanish,) a key 
to the Latin ; and above all, W£ would make modern 
Greek a preparation for old classic Greek. It cannot 
be controverted that children learn to read and write a 
language much sooner and easier if they first learn to 
speak it, even though the book-speech may differ con- 
siderably from the dialect which the child learned from 
his mother ; ample evidence of which fact may be found 
in the different counties of England and Scotland and 
throughout the European countries. 

In the next place, that is, next after English and 
Anglo-Saxon, we must study German, Ma?so-Gothic and 
the Scandinavian languages, and especially Icelandic, 
whicli is the only living key to the history of the mid- 
dle ages, and to the Old Norse literature. It is the only 
language now in use in an almost unchanged form, 
through a knowledge of which we can read the litera- 

* Author of EngHafi of the Fourteenth Century anOi of An Introduction to 
the Study of the Anglo-Saxon Language. 


ture of the middle ages. We must by no means forget 
that we have Teutonic antiquities to which we stand 
in an entirely different and far closer relation than we 
do to Greece or Eome. And the Norsemen have an old 
literature, which the scholar must of necessity be famil- 
iar with in order to comprehend the history of the 
middle ages. 

When we have thus done justice to our own Teu- 
tonic race we may turn our attention to the ancient 
peoples around the Mediterranean Sea, the most impor- 
tant of which in literary and historical respects are the 
Hebrews, Greeks and Romans. The antiquities of these 
peoples will always form important departments in our 
colleges and universities, and it is our duty to study 
them ; but they should not, as they still to a great 
extent do, constitute the all-absorbing subject of our 
attention, the sumnia sunwmrum, the foundation and 
superstructure of our education and culture. 

It has been argued by some that the Latin is 
more terse than English ; but did the reader ever reflect 
that it takes about sixty syllables in Latin to express 
all that we can say in English with foiiy syllaUes 9 
The large number of inflectional endings have also been 
lauded as a point of superior excellence in the Latin; 
but as a language groivs and makes progress, it grad- 
ually emancipates itself from the thraldom of inflection 
and contents itself with the abstract, spiritual chain 
that links the words together into sentences ; and 
did the reader ever run across this significant truth, 
expressed by George P. Marsh, who says that in 
Latin you have to be able to analyse and parse a 
sentence before you can comprehend it, while in Eng- 
lish you must comprehend the sentence before you 
can analyse or parse ? Forward has been and will 


forever be tlie watchword of languages. They must 
either progress or die. 

When the question is asked, whether Hebrew, Greek 
or Latin should be preferred by the student, we 
answer that the choice is not a difficult one to make, 
and our opinion has in fact already been given. Latin 
is the language of a race of robbers ; most of it is 
nothing but imitation, and besides it is a mere corpse, 
while Greek is the only one of the three that is 
still living, and modern Greek — for that is what we 
must begin with — is the key to the old Greek liter- 
ature with its rich, beautiful and original store of my- 
thology, poetry, history, oratory, and philosophy. As 
Icelandic in the extreme north of Europe is the living 
key to the middle ages and to the celebrated Old 
Norse Eddas and Sagas, so modern Greek in the far 
south is the living language, that introduces us to the 
spirit of Homer, Herodotus, Demosthenes, and Plato ; 
and thus the norns or fates, who preside over the 
destinies of men and nations, have in a most won- 
derful manner knit, or rather woven, us together with 
the Greeks, and the more we investigate the develop- 
ment and progress of nations and civilization, the 
more vividly the truth will flash upon our minds, 
that the Greek and the Icelandic are two silver-haired 
veterans, who hold in their hands two golden keys, — 
the one to unlock the treasures of ancient times, the 
other those of the middle ages ; the one the treasures 
of the south and the other those of the north of 
Europe. But we must free ourselves from the bondage 
of Rome ! 

When we get away from Rome, where slaves were 
employed as teachers, and pay more attention to the 
antiquities of Greece, where it was the highest honor 


that the greatest, noblest and most eloquent men cbuld 
attain to, to be listened to by youths eager to learn 
and to be taught, then the present slavery both of the 
teacher and of the student will cease, but scarcely before 

The case of Shakespeare is an eminent example to us 
of what the Gotli is able to accomplish, when he breaks 
the Roman chains. His works are not an imitation of 
Seneca or ^-Eschylus, nor are they the fruit of a careful 
study of the Ars Poetica or Grachis ad Parnassuni. No, 
he knew but little Latin and less Greek, but what made 
him the undisputed Hercules in English literature was 
the heroic spirit of Gothdom which flowed in his veins, 
and which drove him away from the Lathi school before 
his emotional nature had been flogged and tortured out 
of him. Shakespeare, and not Roman literature and 
scholasticism, is the lever that has raised English litera- 
ture and given it the first rank among all the Teutons. 
It is not, we repeat, the deluge of Latin words that flood 
it, that has given this preeminence to English, but it is 
the genuine Gothic strength that everywhere has tried to 
break down the Roman walls. The slaves of Latin will 
find it difficult enough to explain how Shakespeare, who 
was not for an age, but for all time, — he whose Latin was 
small and whose Greek was less, — how he, the star of 
l^oets, the sweet swan of Avon, was made as well as born. 
Ay, he was made. He was also one of those who, to cast 
a living line had to sweat, and strike the second heat upon 
the Muses' anvil. It is true that Shakespeare did not 
arrive at a full appreciation of the Gothic spirit, for he 
did not have an opportunity to acquaint himself thor- 
oughly with the Gothic myths; but then they ever 
haunted him like the ghost of Hamlet, accusing their 


murderer, without finding any avenger. We therefore 
count Shakespeare on our side of this great question. 

May the time speedily come, nay, the time must come, 
when Greek and Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse and Gothic 
and German will shake hands over the bloody chasm of 
Eoman vandalism! 

We fancy we see more than one who reads this chap- 
ter, and does not remember that he is a son of Thor, 
stretch out his hand for Mjolner, that huge and mighty 
hammer of Thor, to swing it at us for what Ave have said 
and have not said about Eome, Roman mythology, and 
the Latin language and literature; but, alas! for him, 
and fortunately for us, the Roman school-master took 
Thor's hammer away from him and whipped the strength 
wherewith to wield it out of him. We only repeat that 
we know nothing of Roman mythology, but the Greek 
and Norse are twin sisters, and with the assistance of the 
Mosaic-Christian religion they have a grand mission in 
the Gothic-Greek development of the world. 



CONSIDERABLE has been said on this subject in 
the preceding pages, and the interpretation which 
will be adhered to in this volume has been clearly indi- 
cated. We propose now to give a general synopsis of 
the more prominent methods of interpreting Norse my- 

In one thing all undoubtedly agree, namely, that 
all mythologies embody religious faith. As we, even 
to this day, each in his own way, seek to find God by 
philosophical speculation (natural theology), by our emo- 
tions, by good deeds, or by all these at one time; and 
as we, when we have found him, rest upon his breast, 
although we do not fully agree as to our conception of 
him, each one of us having his own God as each has 
his own rainbow ; thus our forefathers sought God every- 
where — in the rocks, in the babbling stream, in the 
heavy ear of grain, in the star-strewn sky of night, and 
in the splendor of the sun. It was revelations of 
divinity that they looked for. The fundamental element 
in their mythology was a religious one, and this fact 
must never be lost sight of. To interpret a myth, 
then, is not only to give its source, but also its aim 
and object, together with the thoughts and feelings 
that it awakens in the human breast. 

Some writers (William and Mary Howitt and others) 
maintain that the Norse mythology is a degradation of, 



or aberration from, the true religion, which was revealed 
to man in the earliest period of the history of the human 
race and is found pure and undefiled in the Bible; 
that it presents sparkling waters from the original fount- 
ain of tradition. They j)oint with seriousness to it as 
something that bears us on toward the primal period 
of one tongue and one religion. In reference to the 
Elder Edda, they say that it descended through vast 
ages, growing, like all traditions, continually darker, 
and accumulating lower matter and more divergent and 
more pagan doctrines, as the walls of old castles become 
covered with mosses and lichens, till it finally assumed 
the form in which it was collected from the mouths 
of the people, and put in a permanent written form. 
These interpreters claim that through all mythologies 
there run certain great lines, which converge toward 
one common center and point to an original source of 
a religious faith, which has grown dimmer and more 
disfigured, the further it has gone. The geographical 
center, they say, from which all these systems of heathen 
belief have proceeded is the same — Central Asia; they 
point to the eastern origin of the Norseman ; they assert, 
with full confidence, that the religious creed of the ISTorse- 
man is the faith of Persia, India, G-reece, and every other 
country, transferred to the snow-capped mountains of 
Norway and jokuls of Iceland, having only been modified 
there, so as to give it an air of originality without de- 
stroying its primeval features. They argue that Loke 
of the Norsemen, Pluto of the Greeks, Ahriman of the 
Persians, Siva of the Hindoos, etc., are all originally the 
devil of the Bible, who has changed his name and more 
or less his personal form and characteristics. The 
biblical Trinity is degenerated into the threefold trinity 
of Odin, Vile, and Ve; Odin, Hoener, and Loder; and 


Odin, Thor, and Balder. They find in the Norse cos- 
mogony, in a somewhat mutilated and interpolated con- 
dition, the Scripture theory of the creation, preservation, 
destruction and regeneration of the world. Ygdrasil 
is the tree of life in the garden of Eden ; Ask and 
Embla, the first human pair, are Adam and Eve; the 
blood of the slain giant Ymer, in which the whole race 
of frost-giants was drowned, (excepting one pan-, who 
were saved, and from whom a new giant race descended,) 
is the flood of Noah, the deluge ; the citadel called Mid- 
gard is the tower of Babel ; in the death of Balder, by 
Hoder, who was instigated by Loke, they find the cruci- 
fixion of Christ by Judas, instigated by the devil, etc. j 
displaying a vast amount of erudition, profoundness and 
ingenuity, that might have been applied to some good 
purpose. We refrain from giving more of the results 
of their learned and erudite investigations, from fear 
of seducing ourselves or our readers into the adoption 
of their absurdities. 

Other scholars (Snorre Sturleson, Saxo Grammaticus, 
Suhm, Rask, and others,) give us what is called an his- 
torical interpretation, asserting that Odin, Thor, Balder, 
and the other deities that figure in the Norse mythology, 
are veritable ancestors of the Noi'semen, — men and 
women who have lived in the remote past; and as dis- 
tance lends enchantment to the view, so the ordinary 
kings and priests of pre-historic times have been magnified 
into gods. Odin and the other divinities are in Snorre 
Sturleson's Heimskringla represented as having come to 
Norseland from the great Svithiod, a country lying be- 
tween the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. According to 
the historical interpretation the mythical worlds are real 
countries that can be pointed out on the map. This was 
the prevailing view taken during the last two centuries, 


and even that sagacious scholar of the earlier part of this 
century, Professor Easmns Rask, adheres almost exclu- 
sively to the historical interpretation. 

It is curious to read these old authors and observe 
how sincerely they have looked upon Odin as an extra- 
ordinary and enterprising person who formerly ruled in 
the North and inaugurated great changes in the govern- 
ment, customs and religion of Norway, Sweden, and 
Denmark. They speak of the great authority which he 
enjoyed, and how he even had divine honors paid to him. 
They ingeniously connect Odin with the Roman Com- 
monwealth, with Mithridates and Pompey (see p. 232). 
This historical sketch of Odin will be given in connec- 
tion with the Odinic myth ; suffice it here to say that the 
king of Pontus and all his barbarian allies were obliged 
to yield to the genius of Pompey. And here it is said 
that Odin was one of the number defeated by Pompey. 
He was obliged to withdraw himself by flight from the 
vengeance of the Romans ! Odin came to Norway by way 
of Holstein and Jutland. On his way through Denmark 
he founded the city Odinse, and placed his son Skjold 
upon the Danish throne. How profound! What eru- 
dition! How much like the enthusiastic work of the 
Swede Rudbeck, who makes out the Atlantis of Plato to 
be Sweden, and shows that Japhet, son of Noah, came 
there and settled with his family ! What profound learn- 
ing [gelahrtlieit) these men must have possessed ! We are 
amazed and confounded at the vast amount of mental 
force that has been brought into activity, at the untiring 
zeal and the marvelous ingenuity, with which these theo- 
ries have been set up; but we cannot witness all this 
without a feeling of deep regret that so much erudition 
and ingenuity, so much mental strength, was so fruit- 
lessly thrown away. They were generally profound Latin 


scholars, and wrote the raost of their books in Latin ; but 
those ponderous tomes make their authors fools in folios 
in the light of modern historical knowledge. They studied 
by that kind of lamp that illuminates a small spot on the 
table, but leaves the whole room dark. A more careful 
and enlightened study of our early literature has of course 
given the death-blow to so prosaic an interpretation of the 
Norse mythology as tlie purely historical one is. 

Then we are met by the so-called etliical interpretation 
of mythology, seeking its origin in man's peculiar nature, 
especially in a moral point of view. The advocates of 
this theory claim that mythology is a mere fiction created 
to satisfy man's spiritual, moral, and emotional nature. 
The gods according to this interpretation represent man's 
virtues and vices, emotions, faculties of mind and muscle, 
etc., personified. Odin, tliey say, is wisdom; Balder is 
goodness; Thor is strength; Heimdal is grace, etc. 
Again: Thor is the impersonation of strength and cour- 
age ; the giants represent impotent sloth and arrogance ; 
the conflicts between Thor and the giants are a struggle 
going on in the human breast. And again : the mischief- 
maker Loke instigated the blind Hoder to kill the good 
Balder; Nanna, Balder's wife, took her husband's death 
so mucii to heart, that she died of grief; Hoder is after- 
wards slain by Odin's son Vale ; all nature weeps for Bal- 
der, but still he is not released from Hel (hell). That is, 
physical strength with its blind earthly desires (Hoder), 
guided by sin (Loke), unconsciously kills innocence, 
(Balder). Love (Nanna) dies broken-hearted; reflection 
(Vale) is aroused and subdues physical strength (Hoder) ; 
but innocence (Balder) has vanished from the world to 
remain in Hel's regions until the earth is regenerated, 
after Eagnarok. The ethical interpretation makes the 
gods the faculties of the spirit, and the giants the facul- 


ties of the body, in man ; and between the two, soul and 
body, there is a constant struggle for supremacy. This 
interpretation is very good, because it is very poetic, but 
it has more to do with the application of the myths than 
with their primary source. 

Finally, an interpretation, that has frequently been 
alluded to in the preceding pages of this introduction, is 
the physical, or interpretation from nature, — impersona- 
tion of the visible workings of nature. The divinities 
are the forces and phenomena of nature personified ; and 
evidence of the correctness of this view can be abundantly 
presented by defining etymologically the names of the 
several divinities, their attributes, dwellings and achieve- 
ments, and by showing how faithfully the works of 
the gods correspond with the events and scenes of the 
outward world. There is no doubt that this is the 
true interpretation of all mythologies ; and that it is, 
so to speak, the key to the Norse mythology, it is 
hoped will be sufficiently demonstrated in the second 
part of this book in connection with the myths them- 
selves ; but the ethical, or perhaps better the spiritual, 
interpretation must by all means be added. The spir- 
itual or ethical and the physical interpretation must 
be combined. In other words, vve can scarcely make 
the interpretation too antliropomorpliic. The phenomena 
and forces of nature have been personified by our fore- 
fathers into deities, but the myths have been elabo- 
rated to suit and correspond with the moral, intel- 
lectual and emotional nature, — the inner life of man. 
The deities have been conceived in a human form, 
with human attributes and affections. The ancient 
Norsemen have made their mythology reflect human 
nature, and have clothed the gods with their own 
faculties of mind and body in respect to good and 


evil, virtue and vice, right and wrong. As Rudolf 
Keyser beautifully expresses himself: 

The gods are the ordaining , powers of nature clothed in 
personality. They direct the world, which they created ; but 
beside them stand the mighty goddesses of fate and time, the 
great norns, who sustain the world-structure, the all-embracing 
tree of the world (Ygdrasil). The life of the world is a strug- 
gle between the good and light gods on the one side, and the 
offspring of chaotic matter, the giants, nature's disturbing forces, 
on the other. This struggle extends also into man's being : 
the spirit proceeds from the gods, the body belongs to the world of 
the giants ; they struggle with each other for the supremacy. If 
the spirit conquers by virtue and bravery, man goes to heaven 
after death, to fight in concert with the gods against the evil 
powers; but if the body conquers and links the spirit to itself 
by weakness and low desires, then man sinks after death to 
the world of the giants in the lower regions, and joins him- 
self with the evil powers in the warfare against the gods. 

Nature is the mother at whose breast we all are 
nourished. In ancient times she was the object of 
childlike contemplation, nay, adoration. Nature and 
men were in close communion with each other, much 
closer than we now are. They had a more delicate 
perception of, and more sympathy for, suffering nature ; 
and it were well if some of the purity of this thought 
could be breathed down to us, their prosaic descend- 
ants, who have abandoned the offerings to give place 
to avarice (die Habsucht nahm zu, als die Opfer auf- 
horten. — Grimm). 

It was a beautiful custom, which is still preserved 
in some parts of Norway, to fasten a bundle of grain 
to a long pole, which on Christmas eve was erected 
somewhere in the yard, or on the top of the house or 
barn, for the wild birds to feed upon early on Christ- 
mas-day morning, — (our heathen ancestors also had the 
Christmas or Yule-tide festival). In our degenerate 

ODIN, THOR, AEGOS, 10. 87 

times we think of chickens and geese and turkeys, 
but who thinks of the innocent and suffering little 
birds ? Nay, our ancestors lay nearer to nature's 
breast. Have we had our hearts hardened by the iron 
yoke of civilized government ? We certainly need to 
ask ourselves that question. 

The contemplation of the heavens produced the 
myth about Odin, and the thunder-storm suggested 
Thor, as in the Greek mythology Argos with his 
hundred eyes represents the starry heavens, and the 
wandering lo, whom Hera had set him to watch, is 
the wandering moon. But stopping here would be 
too prosaic; it would be leaving out the better half; 
it would be giving the empty shell and throw- 
ing away the kernel ; it would be giving the skull 
of the slain warrior without any ale in it; it would 
be doing great nijustice to our forefathers and rob- 
bing ourselves of more than half of the intellectual 
pleasure that a proper study of their myths afford. 
The old Frisians contemplated the world as a huge 
ship, by name Mannigfual (a counterpart of our ash- 
tree Ygdrasil) ; the mountains were its masts ; the 
captain must go from one place to another of the 
ship, giving his orders, on horseback; the sailors go 
aloft as young men to make sail, and when they 
come down again their hair and beard are white. 
Ay, we are all sailors on board this great ship, and 
we all have enough to do, each in his own way, to 
climb its rope ladders and make and reef its sails, and 
ere we are aware of it our hairs are gray ; but take 
the anthropomorphic element out of this myth, and 
what is there left of it? 

Our ancestors were not prosaic. They were poetic 
in the truest sense of that word. Our life is divided 


between the child, the vigorous man, and old age, — 
the imaginative and prophetic child, the emotional and 
active man, and the reflecting elder. So a nation, 
which like the ancient Greek and Norse, for instance, 
has had a natural growth and development, has first 
its childhood of imagination and prophecy, producing 
poetry (Homer and the Eddas) ; then its manhood 
of emotion aud activity, producing history (Herodotus 
and the Sagas) ; and then its old age of mature reflec- 
tion, producing philosophy (Socrates). Dividing the 
three periods in Greek history more definitely, we will 
find that imagination and poetry predominated during 
the whole time before Solon ; emotion, activity and 
history during the time between Solon and Alexander 
the Great; and then reflection and philosophy, such as 
they were, from Alexander to the collapse of the Greek 

Even among the Romans, the most prosaic of all 
peoples, that nation of subduers, enslavers and robbers, 
traces of this growth from poetic childhood through 
historic manhood to philosophic old age can be found, 
which proves moreover that this is a law of human 
development that cannot be eradicated, although it may 
be perverted. That of the Romans is a most distorted 
growth, showing that as the twig is bent the tree is 
inclined. Ut sementem feceris, ita metes — as you sow, 
so will you reap, — to quote the Romans' own words 
against them. The Romans had their poetic and pro- 
phetic age during the reign of the seven kings; their 
emotional and historical age during the most prosperous 
and glorious epoch of the republic ; and finally, their 
age of reflection and philosophy began with the time 
of the elder Cato. Rome took a distorted, misan- 
thropic course from the beginning, so that her pro- 


foundest and most poetic myth is that of the warlike 
Mars and the rapacious tool/, the father and nurse of 
the fratricide Romukis. This myth is prophetic, and 
in it the whole history of Rome is reflected as in 
a mirror. The Romans themselves claim that their 
Sibylline books (prophecy) belong to the time of their 
kings. When, during the transition period from the 
emotional to the philosophic age, Rome was to have 
dramatic writers, she produced in comedy the clumsy 
Plautus, whom the Romans employed in turning a 
hand-mill ; and in tragedy the flat Ennius, whose works 
were lost; so that her only really poetical tragedy is 
the fate of her dramatic poets. Her other poetical 
works, of which the world has boasted so much, came 
later, after the death of Cicero, their most famous orator, 
during the life of the crowned Augustus ; they came like 
an Iliad after Homer, and the most of them was a poor 
imitation of Greek literature, just as this book is a 
poor imitation of Scandinavian literature. Ux ipso 
fonte dulcius hihuntur aqum — go to the fountain 
itself if you want to drink the pure and sparkling 
water. The Roman literature is eminently worthy of 
the consideration of the historical philosopher, but it 
ought not to be canonized and used to torture the life 
out of students with. 

The Hebrews have their imaginative, poetic and 
prophetic age from Genesis to Moses; their emotional 
and historical age from Moses to Solomon, and then 
begins their age of reflection and philosophy. 

Taking a grand, colossal, general view of the history 
of the world, we would say that the ancients belong 
chiefly to the poetic age, the middle ages to the emotional 
age, and modern times to the reflecting age, of the 
human race. Thus the life of the individual is, in 


miniature, the life of a people or of the whole human 

This was a digression, and we confess that it is not 
the first one we have made ; but in the world of thought, 
as in the world of music, monotony is tedious ; and 
the reader having perhaps refreshed his mind by the 
interlude, we will proceed to discuss further the union 
of the ethical with the physical interpretation of 
mythology. Physical interpretation alone is the shell 
■without the kernel. Nature gives us only the source 
of the myth ; but we want its value in the minds 
and hearts of a people in their childhood. The touching 
gracefulness of Nanna, and of Idun reclining on Brage's 
breast, was not suggested by nature alone, but the 
pictures of these reflect corresponding natures in our 
ancestors. To explain a myth simply by the phe- 
nomenon in external nature (be it remembered, how- 
ever, that man also constitutes a part of nature) that 
suggested it to the ancients, would be reducing my- 
thology to a natural science; and it is sad to witness 
how the beautiful and poetical Eddas, in the hands 
of some, have dwindled down into the dry chemistry, 
chronology, electro-magnetism, mathematics, astronomy, 
or, if you please, the almanacs, of our forefathers, 
instead of being presented as the grand, prophetic 
drama which foreshadowed the heroic and enterprising 
destiny of the Teutonic nations. The twelve dwellings 
of the gods, they say, represent the twelve signs of 
the zodiac; Balder they make the constellation of the 
lion ; Odin's twelve names, they say, are the twelve 
months of the year; his fifty-two names, which he 
himself enumerates in Grimnismaal, are the fifty-two 
weeks in the year; the thirteen valkyries are the thir- 
teen new moons in the year. How profound! How 


perfectly everything adapts itself to the theory! This 
invaluable discovery was made on the seventh of De- 
cember, 1827. It ought to be a legal holiday! The 
one ox, three measures of mead and eight salmon which 
Thor, according to the Elder Edda, consumed, when 
he had come to Jotunheim to fetch his hammer, they 
claim also represent the year's twelve months, for 
1+34-8 = 12. Furthermore, the three gods, Haar, Jafn- 
haar, and Thride, are the three fundamental elements, 
sulphur, mercury, and salt ; Odin, Vile, and Ve, are the 
three laws of the universe, gravity, motion, and affinity. 
Thor is electricity; his belt is an electric condenser, 
his gloves an electric conductor. Hrungner, with whom 
he contends, is petrifaction; the Mokkerkalfe, whom 
Thjalfe slew, is the magnetic needle. Gunlad is oxygen, 
Kvaser is sugar, etc. But this will do. Are not these 
golden keys, with which to unlock the secret chambers 
of the Eddas! 

All the deities do not represent phenomena and forces 
of nature, and this fact gives if possible still more im- 
portance to the anthropomorphic interpretation. Some 
myths are mere creations of the imagination, to give 
symmetry and poetical finish to the system, or we might 
say to the drama — to complete the delineations of the 
characters that appear on the stage of action. Hermod, 
for instance, is no phenomenon in physical nature: he 
is the servant of Odin in the character of the latter 
as the god of war. Odin is the god of the heavens, 
but it is not in this capacity he sends out the valkyries 
to pick up the fallen heroes on the field of battle. 

In rejecting the historical interpretation, we do by 
no means mean to deny the influence of the mythology 
upon the social, religious, political and literary life of 
the Norsemen. But this is not an explanation of the 


mythology itself, but of its influence upon the minds 
of the people. If we mean it in a prophetic sense, the 
Norse mythology has also an historical interpretation. 
In it was mirrored the grand future of the Norse spirit ; 
by it the Norsemen were taught to make those daring 
expeditions to every part of the civilized world, making 
conquests and planting colonies ; to cross the briny deep 
and open the way to Iceland, Greenland and America; 
to take possession of Normandy in France, subdue Eng- 
land and make inroads into Spain and Italy; to pass 
between the pillars of Hercules, devastate the classic 
fields of G-reece, and carve their mysterious runes on 
the marble lion in Athens; to lay the foundations of 
the Russian Empire, penetrate the walls of Constanti- 
nople and swing their two-edged battle-axes in its streets ; 
to sail up the rivers Rhine, the Scheldt, the Seine, and 
the Loire, conquering Cologne and Aachen and besieging 
Paris ; to lead the van of the chivalry of Europe in rescu- 
ing the holy sepulchre and rule over Antioch and Tibe- 
rias under Harald ; to sever the fetters forged by the 
Roman emperors, break the crosiers in the hands of the 
Roman popes and infuse a nobler and freer spirit into 
the nations of the earth ; and by their mythology they 
were taught to give to the world that germ of liberty 
that struck root in the earliest literature of France, bud- 
ded in the Magna Charta of England, and developed its 
full-blown flowers in the American Declaration of Inde- 

The principal object of the second part of this vol- 
ume is to give a faithful, accurate and complete presen- 
tation of the myths; but interpretations and reflections 
will be freely indulged in. The basis of the interpre- 
tation will be the physical and ethical combined, the 
two taken as a unit. The reflections will consist in 


pointing out occasionally the fulfilment of the prophe- 
cies historically, or rather the application of the myths 
to historical philosophy. When only the physical source 
of the myth is given, its anthropomorjjhic element must 
be supiDlied in the mind of the reader. When Thor is 
given as the impersonation of thunder, and Heimdal as 
the rainbow, clothed with personality, then the reader 
must consider what sensations would be awakened in his 
own breast by these phenomena if he had been taught 
to regard them as persons. And when he has given 
them stature, gait, clothing, bearing, expression of the 
eye and countenance, and personal character correspond- 
ing with their lofty positions in the management of the 
aflFairs of the world, then he can form some idea of these 
deities as contemplated by the ancient Norsemen. 



IN a previous chapter it was claimed that the time 
must come when Norse mythology will be copiously 
reflected in our elegant literature and in our fine arts; 
and we insist that we who are Goths, and branches of 
the noble ash Ygdrasil, ought to develop some fibre, 
leaves, buds and flowers with nourishment drawn from 
the roots of our own tree of existence, and not be con- 
stantly borrowing from our neighbors. If our poets 
would but study Norse mythology, they would find in 
it ample material for the most sublime poetry. The\ 
Norse mythology is itself a finished poem, and has been/ 
most beautifully presented in the Elder Edda, but it 
furnishes at the same time a variety of themes that can 
be combined and elaborated into new poems with all 
the advantages of modern art, modern civilization and 
enlightenment. With the spirit of Christianity, a touch 
of beauty and grandeur can be unconsciously thrown 
over the loftiness of stature, the growth of muscle, the 
bold masses of intellectual masonry, the tempestuous 
strength of passions, those gods and heroes of impetu- 
ous natures and gigantic proportions, those overwhelm- 
ing tragedies of- primitive vigor, which are to be found 
in the Eddas. If our American poet would but pay 



a visit to Urd's fountain, to Time's morning in our 
Gothic history, and tarry tliere until the dawn tinges 
the horizon with crimson and scarlet and the sun breaks 
through the clouds and sends its inspiring rays into his 
soul, — then his poetry and compositions would reflect 
those auroral rays with intensified effulgence; it would 
shine upon and enlighten and gladden a whole nation. 
We need poets who can tell us, in words that burn, 
about our Gothic ancestors, in order that we may be 
better able to comprehend ourselves. It has heretofore 
been explained how the history of nations divides itself 
into three periods — the imaginative, the emotional, and 
reflective; poetry, history, and philosophy; and how 
these have their miniature counterparts in the life of 
any single person — childhood, manhood, and old age ; 
and now we are prepared to present this claim, that the 
poetic, imaginative and prophetic period of our race 
should be compressed into the soul of the child. The 
poetic period of his oimi race should be melted and 
moulded into poetry, touched by a spark of Christian 
refinement and love, and then poured, so to speak, into 
the soul of the child. The child's mind should feed 
upon the mythological stories and the primitive folk- 
lore of his race. It should be nourished with milk 
from its own mother's breast. Does any one doubt this ? 
Let him ask the Scandinavian poets: ask what kindled 
the imaginative fancy of Welhaveu; ask what inspired 
the force and simplicity of phrase in Oelenschlaeger's 
poetry; ask what produced the unadorned loveliness 
with which Bjornstjerne Bjornson expresses himself, and 
the mountain torrent that rushes onward with impetu- 
ous speed in Wergeland ; ask what produced the refine- 
ment of phrase of Tegner, and the wild melodious 
abandon of Ibsen ; — and they will teU him that in the 


deep defiles of that sea-girt and rock-bound land called 
Norseland, where the snow-crowned mountains tower like 
castle-walls, they found in a leafy summer bower a Saga- 
book full of magic words and beautiful pictures, and, 
like Alexander of old, they made this wonderful book 
their pillow. They may tell you that the Scandinavian 
schools, like the American, are pretty thoroughly Latin- 
ized, but that they stole out of the school-room, studied 
this Saga-book, and from it they drew their inspiration. 
The writer once asked the famous Norse violinist, Ole 
Bull, what had inspired his musical talent and given his 
music that weird, original, inexplicable expression and 
style. He said, that from childhood he had taken a pro- 
found delight in the picturesque and harmonious combi- 
nation of grandeur, majesty, and gracefulness of the 
flower-clad valleys, the silver-crested mountains, the sing- 
ing brooks, babbling streams, thundering rivers, sylvan 
shores and smiling lakes of his native land. He had 
eagerly devoured all the folk-lore, all the stories about 
trolls, elves and sprites that came within his reach ; he 
had especially reveled in all the mythological tales about 
Odin, Thor, Balder, Ymer, the Midgard-serpent, Ragnarok, 
etc.; and these things, he said, have made my music. 
Truthfully has our own poet Longfellow, who has him- 
self taken more than one draft from Mimer's fountain, 
and communed more than once with Brage — said of 
Ole Bull: 

He lived in tliat ideal world 

Whose language is not speech, but song; 

Around him evermore the throng 

Of elves and sprites their dances whirled; 

The Striimkarl sang, the cataract hurled 

Its headlong waters from the height, 

And mingled in the wild delight 

The scream of sea-birds in their flight, 


The rumor of tlie forest trees. 
The plunge of the implacable seas. 
The tumult of the wind at night. 
Voices of eld, like trumpets blowing 
Old ballads and wild melodies 
Through mist and darkness pouring forth 
Like Elivagar's rivers flowing 
Out of the glaciers of the North. 

These are the things that make poets, and musicians 
are poets. Then contin ties the same author : 

And when he played, the atmosphere 
Was filled with music, and the ear 
Caught echo of that harp of gold 
Whose music had so weird a sound. 
The hunted stag forgot to bound. 
The leaping rivulet backward rolled, 
The bird came down from bush and tree, 
The dead came from beneath the sea, 
The maiden to the harper's knee. 

Only these few lines make it clear that Longfellow has 
not only communed with Brage, but has also refreshed 
himself at the Castalian fountain ; that he has not only 
penetrated the mysteries of the Greek mythology, but has 
also visited the deities of the North. 

If you do not believe that the Norse mythology fur- 
nishes suitable themes for poetry, then do not echo the 
voice of the multitude and cry the idea down because it 
seems new. Men frequently act like ants. When a red ant 
appears among the black ones, they all attack it, for they 
have once for all made up their minds that all ants must 
necessarily be black ; they have themselves been black all 
tlieir lives, and all their ancestors were black, so far as 
they know anything about them. Thus it has become a 
fixed opinion with many, that mythology necessarily 
means Greek or Roman. We said to one of our friends: 


We are writing a book on Norse mythology. Says our 
learned friend: Are not those old stories about Jupiter 
and Mars pretty well written up by this time? We 
said we thought they were, too much so ; but we are 
writing about Odin and Thor. Then our learned friend 
shook his head in surprise and said that he never heard 
of those gentlemen before. If our reader's case is the 
same as that of our learned friend, then let him examine 
the subject for himself. Let him read the Norse mythol- 
ogy through carefully. Let him then tell us what themes 
suggestive of sublime poetry he found in the upper, the 
middle and the lower worlds of the Odinic mythology; 
how he was impressed with the regions of the gods, of the 
giants, and of the dwarfs; what he thought of the various 
exploits of the gods; how he was impressed with the great 
and wise Odin, the good and shining Balder, the mighty 
Thor, the subtle and malicious Loke, the queenly Frigg, 
the genial Frey, the lovely Idun reclining on the eloquent 
Brage's breast, and the gentle Nanna. Let him read and 
see whether or not he will be delighted Avith all the mag- 
nificent scenery of Gladsheim, Valhal, Midgard, Niflheim^ 
Muspelheim, and Ginungagap ; Avith the norns Urd, 
Verdande, and Skuld; with the glorious ash Ygdrasil; 
with the fountain of Mimer (let him take a deep drink, 
while he is there); with the heavenly bridge Bifrost (the 
rainbow), upon which the gods daily descend to the Urdar- 
fountain ; and with the wild tempest-traversed regions of 
Ean (the goddess of the sea, wife of ^ger). The cele- 
brated poet Oelenschlffiger found in all these things inex- 
haustible scope for poetic embellishments, and he availed 
himself of it in his work, entitled Gods of the North, with 
the zeal and power of a genuine poet. He revived the 
memories of the past. He bade the gods come forward 
out of the mists of the centuries, and he accomplished in 


less than fifty years what Latin versions of the Eddas had 
not been able to accomplish in three centuries. Two of 
Oelenschlajger's poems are given translated in Poets and 
Poetry of Europe, and Mr. Longfellow has given us per- 
mission to present them here. We will now avail our- 
selves of his kindness and not discuss this portion of the 
subject of this chapter any further, knowing that the 
reader will find the poems Thor's Fishing and The 
Dwarfs far more pleasing and convincing than any 
additional arguments we might be able to produce. 
Here they are : 


On the dark bottom of the great salt lake 

Imprisoned lay the giant snake. 

With naught his sullen sleep to break. 

Huge whales disported amorous o'er his neck ; 

Little their sports the worm did reck. 

Nor his dark, vengeful thoughts would check. 

To move his iron fins he has no power, 
Nor yet to harm the trembling shore, 
With scaly rings he is covered o'er. 

His head he seeks 'mid coral rocks to hide. 
Nor e'er hath man bis eye espied. 
Nor could its deadly glare abide. 

His eye-lids half in drowsy stupor close, 
But short and troubled his repose, 
As his quick heavy breathing shows. 

Muscles and crabs, and all the shelly race. 
In spacious banks still crowd for place 
A grisly beard, around his face. 

When Midgard's worm his fetters strives to break, 
Riseth the sea, the mountains quake ; 
The fiends in Naastrand merry make 

100 thok's fishikg. 

Rejoicing flames from Hecla's caldron flash, 
Huge molten stones with deafening crash 
Fly out, — its scathed sides fire-streams wash. 

The affrighted sons of Ask d,o feel the shock. 
As the worm doth lie and rock, 
And sullen waiteth Ragnarok. 

To his foul craving maw naught e'er came ill ; 

It never he doth cease to fill ; 

Nath' more his hungry pain can still. 

Upward by chance he turns his sleepy eye. 
And, over him suspended nigh. 
The gory head he doth espy. 

The serpent taken with his own deceit. 
Suspecting naught the daring cheat. 
Ravenous gulps down the bait. 

His leathern jaws the barbed steel compress. 
His ponderous head must leave the abyss ; 
Dire was Jormungander's hiss. 

In giant coils he writhes his length about, 
Poisonous streams he speweth out, 
But his struggles help him naught. 

The mighty Thor knoweth no peer in fight. 
The loathsome worm, his strength despite. 
Now o'ermatched must yield the fight. 

His grisly head Thor heaveth o'er the tide. 

No mortal eye the sight may bide, 

The scared waves haste i' th' sands to hide. 

As when accursed Naastrand yawns and burns. 
His impious throat 'gainst heaven he turns 
And with his tail the ocean spurns. 

The parched sky droops, darkness enwraps the sun 
Now the matchless strength is shown 
Of the god whom warriors own. 


Around his loins he draws his girdle tight, 
His eye with triumph flashes bright. 
The frail boat splits aneath his weight ; 

The frail boat splits, — but on the ocean's ground 
Thor again hath footing found ; 
Within his arms the worm is bound. 

Hymer, who in the strife no part had took, 
But like a trembling aspen shook, 
Rouseth him to avert the stroke. 

In the last night, the vala hath decreed 

Thor, in Odin's utmost need, 

To the worm shall bow the head. 

Thus, in sunk voice, the craven giant spoke, 
Whilst from his belt a knife he took, 
Forged by dwarfs aneath the rock. 

Upon the magic belt straight 'gan to file ; 
Thor in bitter scorn to smile ; 
Mjolner swang in air the while. 

In the worm's front full two-score leagues it fell ; 
From Gimle to the realms of hell 
Echoed Jormungander's yell. 

The ocean yawned ; Thor's lightnings rent the sky ; 
Through the storm, the great sun's eye 
Looked out on the fight from high. 

Bifrost i' th' east shone forth in brightest green ; 
On its top, in snow-white sheen, 
Heimdal at his post was seen. 

On the charmed belt the dagger hath no power; 
The star of Jotunheim 'gan to lour ; 
But now, in Asgard's evil hour, 

When all his efforts foiled tall Hymer saw, 
Wading to the serpent's maw, 
On the kedge he 'gan to saw. 


The Sun, dismayed, hastened in clouds to hide, 
Heimdal turned his head aside ; 
Thor was humbled in his pride. 

The knife prevails, far down beneath the main, 
The serpent, spent with toil and pain, 
To the bottom sank again. 

The giant fled, his head 'mid rocks to save. 

Fearfully the god did rave. 

With his lightnings tore the wave. 

To madness stung, to think his conquest vain. 
His ire no longer could contain, 
Dared the worm to rise again. 

His radiant form to its full height he drew. 
And Mjolner through the billows blue 
Swifter than the fire-bolt flew. 

Hoped, yet, the worm had fallen beneath the stroke; 
But the wily child of Loke 
Waits her turn at Ragnarok. 

His hammer lost, back wends the giant-bane. 
Wasted his strength, his prowess vain ; 
And Mjolner must with Ran remain. 


Loke sat and thought, till his dark eyes gleam 

With joy at the deed he'd done ; 
When Sif looked into the crystal stream. 

Her courage was well-nigh gone. 

For never again her soft amber hair 

Shall she braid with her hands of snow ; 

From the hateful image she turned in despair. 
And hot tears began to flow. 

In a cavern's mouth, like a crafty fox, 
Loke sat 'neath the tall pine's shade, 

When sudden a thundering was heard in the rocks, 
And fearfully trembled the glade. 


Then lie knew that the noise good boded him naught, 
He knew that 't was Thor who was coming ; 

He changed himself straight to a salmon-trout, 
And leaped in a fright in the Glommen.* 

But Thor changed, too, to a huge sea-gull. 

And the salmon-trout seized in his beak ; 
He cried : Thor, traitor, I know thee well, 

And dear shalt thou pay thy freak ! 

Thy caitiflT's bones to a meal I'll pound, 

As a mill-stone crusheth the grain. 
When Loke that naught booted his magic found. 

He took straight his own form again. 

And what if thou scatter' st my limbs in air? 

He spake, will it mend thy case? 
Will it gain back for Sif a single hair? 

Thou'lt still a bald spouse embrace. 

But if now thou'lt pardon my heedless joke, — 

For malice sure meant I none, — 
I swear to thee here, by root, billow and rock. 

By the moss on the Bauta-stone,f 

By Mimer's well, and by Odin's eye. 

And by Mjolner, greatest of all, 
That straight to the secret caves I'll hie, 

To the dwarfs, my kinsmen small ; 

And thence for Sif new tresses I'll bring 

Of gold ere the daylight's gone. 
So that she will liken a field in spring. 

With its yellow-flowered garment on. 

Him answered Thor : Why, thou brazen knave. 

To my face to mock me dost dare? 
Thou know'st well that Mjolner is now 'neath the wave 

With Ran, and wilt still by it swear? 

* A river in Norway. t A stone raised over a grave. 


O a better hammer for thee I'll obtain ; 

And he shook like an aspen-tree, 
For whose stroke shield, buckler and greave shall be vain, 

And the giants with terror shall flee ! 

Not so ! cried Thor, and his eyes flashed fire ; 

Thy base treason calls loud for blood, 
And hither I'm come with my sworn brother Frey, 

To make thee of ravens the food. 

I'll take hold of thy arms and thy coal-black hair. 

And Frey of thy heels behind, 
And thy lustful body to atoms we'll tear, 

And scatter thy limbs to the wind. 

O spare me, Frey, thou great-souled king ! 
And, weeping, he kissed his feet ; 

mercy, and thee I'll a courser bring. 

No match in the wide world shall meet. 

Without whip or spur round the earth you shall ride ; 

He'll ne'er weary by day nor by night ; 
He shall carry you safe o'er the raging tide. 

And his golden hair furnish you light. 

Loke promised as well with his glozing tongue 

That the asas at length let him go, 
And he sank in the earth, the dark rocks among. 

Near the cold-fountain, far below. 

He crept on his belly, as supple as eel, 

The cracks in the hard granite through. 
Till he came where the dwarfs stood hammering steel, 

By the light of a furnace blue. 

1 trow 't was a goodly sight to see 

The dwarfs, with their aprons on, 
A-hammering and smelting so busily 

Pure gold from the rough brown stone. 

Rock crystals from sand and hard flint they made. 

Which, tinged with the rosebud's dye, 
They cast into rubies and carbuncles red, 

And hid them in cracks hard by. 


They took them fresh violets all dripping with dew. 
Dwarf-women had plucked them, the morn, — 

And stained with their juice the clear sapphires blue, 
King Dan in his crown since hath worn. 

Then for emeralds they searched out the brightest green 

Which the young spring meadow wears, 
And dropped round pearls, without flaw or stain, 

From widows' and maidens' tears. 

And all around the cavern naight plainly be shown 

Where giants had once been at play ; 
For the ground was with heaps of huge muscle-shells strewn, 
And strange fish were marked in the clay. 

Here an ichthyosaurus stood out from the wall. 

There monsters ne'er told of in story. 
Whilst hard by the Nix in the waterfall 

Sang wildly the days of their glory. 

Here bones of the mammoth and mastodon, 

And serpents with wings and with claws ; 
The elephant's tusks from the burning zone 

Are small to the teeth in their jaws. 

When Loke to the dwarfs had his errand made known. 

In a trice for the work they were ready ; 
Quoth Dvalin : O Lopter, it now shall be shown 

That dwarfs in their friendship are steady. 

We both trace our line from the selfsame stock ; 

What you ask shall be furnished with speed, 
For it ne'er shall be said that the sons of the rock 

Turned their backs on a kinsman in need. 

They took them the skin of a large wild-boar. 

The largest that they could find. 
And the bellows they blew till the furnace 'gan roar, 

And the fire flamed on high for the wind. 

And they struck with their sledge-hammers stroke on stroke, 
That the sparks from the skin flew on high, 

But never a word good or bad spake Loke, 
Though foul malice lurked in his eye. 


The thuuderer far distant, with sorrow he thought 

On all he'd engaged to obtain, 
And, as summer-breeze fickle, now anxiously sought 

To render the dwarfs' labor vain. 

Whilst ths bellows plied Brok, and Sindre the hammer. 

And Thor, that the sparks flew on high, 
And the sides of the vaulted cave rang with the clamor, 

Loke changed to a huge forest-fly. 

And he sat him all swelling with venom and spite. 

On Brok, the wrist just below; 
But the dwarf's skin was thick, and he recked not the bite, 

Nor once ceased the bellows to blow. 

And now, strange to say, from the roaring fire 

Came the golden-haired Gullinburste, 
To serve as a charger the sun-god Frey , 

Sure, of all wild-boars this the first. 

They took them pure gold from their secret store, 

The piece 't was but small in size, 
But ere 't had been long in the furnace roar, 

'T was a jewel beyond all prize. 

A broad red ring all of wroughten gold, 

As a snake with its tail in its head, 
And a garland of gems did the rim enfold, 

Together with rare art laid. 

'T was solid and heavy, and wrought with care. 
Thrice it passed through the white flames' glow; 

A ring to produce, fit for Odin to wear. 
No labor they spared, I trow. 

They worked it and turned it with wondrous skill, 

Till they gave it the virtue rare. 
That each thrice third night from its rim there fell 

Eight rings, as their parent fair. 

'T was the same with which Odin sanctified 

God Balder's and Nanna's faith ; 
On his gentle bosom was Draupner laid. 

When their eyes were closed in death. 


Next tliey laid on the anvil a steel-bar cold. 

They needed nor fire nor file ; 
But their sledge-hammers, following, like thunder rolled, 

And Sindre sang runes the while. 

When Loke now marked how the steel gat power, 

And how warily out 't was beat 
('T was to make a new hammer for Ake-Thor), 

He'd recourse once more to deceit. 

In a trice, of a hornet the semblance he took. 

Whilst in cadence fell blow on blow. 
In the leading dwarf's forehead his barbed sting he stuck, 

That the blood in a stream down did flow. 

Then the dwarf raised his hand to his brow for the smart. 

Ere the iron well out was beat. 
And they found that the haft by an inch was too short. 

But to alter it then 't was too late. 

Now a small elf came running with gold on his head. 

Which he gave a dwarf woman to spin. 
Who the metal like flax on her spinning wheel laid, 

Nor tarried her task to begin. 

So she span and span, and the gold thread ran 

Into hair, though Loke thought it a pity ; 
She span and sang to the sledge-hammer's clang 

This strange, wild spinning-wheel ditty : 

Henceforward her hair shall the tall Sif wear. 
Hanging loose down her white neck behind ; 

By no envious braid shall it captive be made. 
But in native grace float in the wind. 

No swain shall it view in the clear heaven's blue, 

But his heart in its toils shall be lost ; 
No goddess, not e'en beauty's faultless queen. 

Such long glossy ringlets shall boast. 

Though they now seem dead, let them touch but her head. 

Each hair shall the life-moisture fill ; 
Nor shall malice nor spell henceforward prevail 

Sif's tresses to woi'k aught of ill. 


His object attained, Loke no longer remained 

'Neatli the earth, but straight hied him to Thor, 

Who owned than the hair ne'er, sure, aught more fair 
His eyes had e'er looked on before. 

The boar Frey bestrode, and away proudly rode, 
And Thor took the ringlets and hammer ; 

To Valhal they hied, where the asas reside, 
'Mid of tilting and wassal the clamor. 

At a full solemn ting, Thor gave Odin the ring. 

And Loke his foul treachery pardoned ; 
But the pardon was vain, for his crimes soon again 

Must do penance the arch-sinner hardened. 

For the benefit of those who can read Danish, we 
will give in the original the last ten stanzas of the 
latter poem of Oehlenschlaiger, beginning with the spin- 
ning of Sif's hair: 

Nu kom med Guldet en Dvaergeflok 

Og gave det til Dvserginden ; 
Hun satte, som Hor, det paa sin Rok, 

Hvis Hjul hensused for Vinden. 

Og spandt og spandt, mens Guldtraaden randt 

Til Haar for den deilige Dise ; 
Hun snurred og sang, ved Kildernes Klang, 

En underlig Spindevise : 

Gudinden i Vaar skal bsere sit Haar 

Hel frit for Vinden herefter, 
Ei flette det mer, at yndig sig ter 

Dets Glands med straalende Kraefter. 

Hver Svend, som det saa, fra Himmelens Blaa, 

Hans Hjerte skal Haarene fange. 
Selv Lokker vist ei paa veneste Frey 

Nedbolge saa blode, saa lange. 

Skjont Guldet er dodt, saasnart det har m6dt 

Gudindens Tinding, den hole, 
Det levende blier og efter sig gier, 

Og lader, som Horren, sig boie. 


Beholder sin Glands, i Vindenes Dands, 

Og lader sig aldrig udrykke ; 
Som Middagens Skin, det svciber sig ind 

Bag Hjelmens ludende Sky gge ! — 

Saa sang hun og gik med ydmyge Blik 

For Thor, og rakte ham Haaret ; 
Paa Lokken han saa og maatte tilstaa : 

Saa fager var ingen baaret. 

Fra Bjerget valt nu Frey paa sin Gait 
Og Thor med Haaret og Hammer, 

Til Valhal de for, hvor Haerfader bor 
I Lysets salige Flammer. 

Da satte paa Sif lig Tang paa et Rif, 

Sig fast Guldhaaret paa stande, 
Og monue sig slaa i Lokker saa smaa. 

Trindt om den hvselvede Pande. 

Paa straalende Thing fik Odin sin Ring. 

Man tilgav Loke sin Erode. 
Men snart dog igjen Bjergtroldenes Ven 

Maa for sin Troloshed bode. 

There remains now to discuss briefly whether the 
Norse mythology furnishes subjects for painting and 
sculpturing. If the reader has become convinced that 
there is material in it worthy of the greatest poet, 
then it is not necessary to say much about painting 
and sculpturing ; for we know that most things that 
can be said in verse can be made visible on the can- 
vas, or be chiseled in marble. We shall therefore be 
brief on this particular point, but after the presen- 
tation of a few subjects for the painter or sculptor, 
we shall have something to say about nude art. 

Can the brush or the chisel ask for more suggestive 
subjects than Odin, Balder, Thor, Frey, Idun, Nanna, 
Loke, etc.? or groups like the norns at the Urdar- 


fountain ? or Urcl (the past) and Verdande (the present), 
who stretch from east to west a web, which is torn 
to pieces by Skuld (the future) ; the valkyries in the 
heat of the battle picking up tlie slain ; or when they 
carry the fallen Hakon Adelsten to Valhal? Cannot 
a beautiful picture be made of ^ger and Kan and their 
daughters, the waves? of the gods holding their feast 
with iEger and sending out Thor to fetch a caldron 
for them from Jotunheim? or of Thor clapping the 
pot on his head like a huge hat and walking off with 
it ? What more touching scene can be perceived 
than the death of Balder? Only in that short poem 
Hamarsheimt (fetching the hammer) there are no less 
than three beautiful subjects: (1) Thor wakes up and 
misses his hammer ; he feels around him for it ; he 
is surprised and hesitates; he wrinkles his brows and 
his head trembles. Loke looks down upon him from 
above ; the rogue is in his eye ; he would like to break 
out in a roar of laughter, but dare not. (3) All the 
gods are engaged in dressing Thor in Frej^ja's clothes; 
he is a tall straight youth with golden hair and a 
fine brown beard ; lightning flashes from his eyes ; 
while Fulla puts on him Freyja's jewels there is a ter- 
rible conflict goiug on in his breast with this humil- 
iation of his dignity, which he cannot overcome. Loke 
stands half-ready near by as maid-servant; he dresses 
Thor's hair and is himself half-covered by the bridal- 
veil which Thor is to wear. All take an intense 
interest in the work, for they are so anxious to have 
the stratagem succeed. (3) The giants have laid the 
hammer in the lap of the bride ; Thor seizes it, and 
as he pushes aside the veil he literally grows into his 
majestic divinity, for whenever he wields his mighty 
Mjolner his strength is redoubled. The disappointed 


desire of Tlirym, the astounded giants, the amused 
Loke ; all furnish an endless variety of excellent ma- 
terial for the brush of the painter. The plastic art can 
find no more exquisite group than Loke bound upon 
three stones, and his loving wife, Sigyn, leaning over 
him with a dish, wherein she catches the drops of 
venom that would otherwise fall into his face and in- 
tensify his agonies. A volume of themes might be pre- 
sented, but it is not necessary. Suffice it then to say 
that for poetry, painting and the plastic arts, there is 
in the Norse mythology a fountain of delight whose 
waters but few have tasted, but which no man can 
drain dry. 

We promised to say something n-bout nude art. It 
is this : We Goths are, and have forever been, a chaste 
race. We abhor the loathsome nudity of Greek art. 
We do not want nude figures, at least not unless they 
embody some very sublime thought. The people of 
southern Europe difler widely from us Northerners in 
this respect ; and this difierence reaches far back into our 
respective mythologies, adding additional proof to the 
fact that the myths foreshadow the social life of a nation 
or race of people. The Greek gods were generally con- 
ceived as nude, and hence Greek art would naturally be 
nude also. Whether the licentiousness and lascivious- 
ness of the Greek communities were the primary causes 
of the unajsthetical features of their mythology or their 
Bacchanalian revels sprang from the mythology, it is 
difficult to determine. We undoiibtedly come nearest 
the truth when we say that the same primeval causes 
produced both the social life and mythology of the 
Greeks ; that there thenceforward was an active recip- 
rocating influence between the religion on the one side 
and the jDopular life on the other, an influence that 


we may liken unto that which operates between the 
soul and the body ; and thus it may be said that the my- 
thology and the popular life combined produced their 
nude art. To say that the popular character of the 
Greeks, taken individually or collectively, was stimu- 
lated into life by their mythology ; that the virtues 
and the vices of the people originated in it alone; 
would certainly be an incorrect and one-sided view of 
the subject. The Greeks brought with them, from their 
original home into Greece, the germs of that faith which 
afterwards became developed in a certain direction under 
the influence of the popular life and the action of 
external circumstances upon that life, but which in turn 
reacted upon the popular life with a power which 
increased in proportion as the system of mythology 
acquired by development a more decided character. 
The same is true of the Norsemen and of the Goths 
in general. When it is found, for instance, that the 
mythological representation of Odin as father of the 
slain (Val-father), and that Valhal (the hall of the slain), 
the Valkyries and einherjes, contain a strong incentive 
to warlike deeds, then it must not be imagined that this 
martial spirit, that displayed itself so powerfully among 
the Goths generally, and among the Norsemen particu- 
larly, was the offspring of the mythology of our ances- 
tors; but we may rather conceive that the Norsemen 
were from the beginning a race of remarkable physical 
power, that accidental external causes, such as severe 
climate, mountainous country, conflicts with neighbor- 
ing peoples, etc., brought this inherent physical force 
into activity and thus awakened the warlike spirit; and 
then it may be said that this martial spirit stamped 
itself upon their religious ideas, upon their mythology, 
and finally that the mythology, when it had received 


this characteristic impress from the people, again reacted 
to preserve and even further iniiame that martial spirit. 
And there is no inconsistency between this view of the 
subject and that which was presented in the third 

It was said at the outset that we Goths are a chaste 
race, and abhor the loathsome nudity of Greek art. 
We were a chaste people before our fathers came under 
the influence of Christianity. The Elder Edda, which 
is the grand depository of the Norse mythology, may 
be searched through and through, and there will not 
be found a single nude myth, not an impersonation of 
any kind that can be considered an outrage upon virtue 
or a violation of the laws of propriety; and this feat- 
ure of the Odinic religion deserves to be urged as an 
important reason why our painters and sculptors should 
look at home for something wherewith to employ their 
talent, before they go abroad ; look in our own ancient 
Gothic history, before going to ancient Greece. 

But the artist who is going to chisel out an Odin, 
a Thor, a Balder, a Nanna, or a Loke, must not be a 
mere imitator. He must possess a creative mind. He 
must not go to work at a piece of Norse art with his 
imagination full of Greek myths, much less must he 
attempt to apply Greek principles to a piece of Gothic 
art. He will find the Norse chisel a somewhat more 
ponderous weapon to swing; and you cannot turn as 
rapidly with a railroad car as you can with a French 
fiacre or American gig. To try to chisel out the gods 
of our forefathers after South European patterns would 
be like attempting to Avrite English with the mind full 
of Latin syntax. Hence we repeat, that we do not 
want an imitator, but an original genius. Greek my- 
thology has been presented so many times, and so well, 


that the imitation, the repetition, is comparatively easy. 
He who would bring out Gothic art (and but little of 
it has hitherto been brought out) must himself be a 
poet, and what a mine of wealth there is open to him ! 
Would that genuine art fever would attack our artists 
and that some of the treasures that lie hid in the 
granite quarries of the Norse mythology might speedily 
be exhumed! 

In his work, entitled Science of Beauty, Dr. John 
Bascom has taken decided grounds against nude figures 
in art. We would recommend the eighth chapter of 
that work to the careful consideration of the reader. 
We are not able for want of space to give his opinion 
in full, but make the following brief extract: 

There is oue direction in which art has indulged itself in a 
most marked violation of propriety, and that too on the side of 
vice. I refer to the frequent nudity of its figures. This is a 
point upon which artists have been pretty unanimous, and dis- 
posed to treat the opinions of others with 7u(uteur and disdain, 
as arising at best from a virtue more itching and sensitive than 
wise, from instincts more physical than aesthetical. This practice 
has been more abused in painting than in sculpture, both as less 
needed, and hence less justifiable, and as ever tending to become 
more loose and lustful in the double symbols of color and form, 
than when confined to the pure, stern use of the latter in stone 
or metal. Despite alleged necessities, — despite the high-toned 
claims and undisguised contempt of artists, — our convictions are 
strongly against the practice, as alike injurious to taste and 
morals. Indeed, if injurious to morals, it cannot be otherwise 
than injurious to taste, since art has no more dangerous enemy 
than a lascivious perverted fancy. 

Nay, in the radiant dawn of our Gothic history 
our poets and artists may, if they would but look for 
them, find chaste themes to which they may consecrate 
the whole ardor of their souls for the a^sthetical eleva- 
tion and ennoblement of our race. As a people we are 


growing too prosaic and, therefore, too ungodly ; we 
nourish the tender minds of our children too early and 
too extensively on dry reasoning, mathematics and phil- 
osophy, instead of strengthening, stimulating and beauti- 
fying their souls with some of the poetic thoughts, some 
of the mythology and folk-lore of our forefathers. These 
mythological stories, these fairy tales and all this folk- 
lore, illuminated by the genial rays of the Christian 
religion shining upon them, should be made available 
in our families and schools, by our poets, painters and 
sculptors, and then our children would in turn get their 
aesthetical natures developed so as to be able to beautify 
their own life and that of their posterity with still 
finer productions in poetry, painting, and sculpture. 



IN order to thoroughly comprehend the Odinic mythol- 
ogy it is necessary to make a careful study of the 
history, literature, languages and dialects of the Teu- 
tonic races and of their popular life in all its various 

The chief depositories of the Norse mythology are 
the Elder or Samund's Edda (poetry) and the Younger 
or Snorre's Edda (prose). In Icelandic Edda means 
great-grandmother, and some think this appellation re- 
fers to the ancient origin of the myths it contains. 
Others connect it with the Indian Veda and the Norse 
vide (Swedish veta, to know). 

I. Tlte Elder Edda. 

This work was evidently collected from the mouths 
of the people in the same manner as Homer's Iliad, 
and there is a similar nncertaint}^ in regard to who put it 
in writing. It has generally been supposed that the songs 
of the Elder Edda were collected by Sgemund the "Wise 
(born 1056, died 1133), but Sophus Bugge and N. M. 
Petersen, both eminent Icelandic scholars, have made 
it seem quite probable that it was not put in writing 
before the year 1240. This is not the place for a discus- 
sion of this difficult question, and the reader is referred 
to Sophus Bugge's Introduction to Scmiundar Edda and 



to Petersen's History of Northern Literature, if he wishes 
to investigiite this subject. There are thirty-nine poems 
in the Elder Edda, and we have here to look at their 
contents. Like the most of the Icelandic poetry, these 
poems do not distinguish themselves, as does the poetry of 
Greece and Eome, by a metrical system based on quan- 
tity, but have an arrangement of their own in common 
with the poetry of the other old Gothic nations, the Anglo- 
Saxons, etc. This system consists chiefly in the num- 
ber of long syllables and in alliteration. The songs are 
divided into strophes commonly containing eight verses 
or lines. These strophes are usually divided into two 
halves, and each of these halves again into two parts, 
which form a fourth part of the whole strophe, and 
contain two verses belonging together and united by 

The alliteration (letter rhyme) is the most essential 
element in Icelandic versification. It is found in all 
kinds of verse and in every age, the Icelanders still 
using it; and its nature is this, that in the two lines 
belonging together, three words occur beginning with 
the same letter, two of which must be in the first 
line and the third in the beginning of the second. 
The third and last of these is called the chief letter 
{ho/H^stafi; head-stave), because it is regarded as ruling 
over the two others which depend on it and have the 
name sub-letters {studlar, supporters). All rhyme-let- 
ters must be found in accented syllables, and no more 
Avords in the two lines should begin with the same 
letter — at least no chief word, which takes the accent 
on the first syllable. This principle is illustrated by 
the folloAving first half of the seventh strophe of Vo- 
luspa, the oldest song in the Elder Edda : 


TeMu. i tnni, 
Teitir varu ; 
Far J)eim wettugis 
Fant or gulli. 

Free version in English : 

With golden tablets in the ^'arden 

Glad they played, 
Nor wa,s there to the -yaliaut gods. 

TFant of gold. 

The rhyme-letters here are those in italics. 

The poems of the Elder Edda are in no special 
connection one with the other, and they may be di- 
vided into three classes: purely mythological, mytho- 
logical-didactic, and mythological-historical poems. 

The Elder Edda presents the Norse cosmogony, 
the doctrines of the Odinic mythology, and the lives 
and doings of the gods. It contains also a cycle 
of poems on the demi-gods and mythic heroes and 
heroines of the same period. It gives ns as complete 
a view of the mythological world of the North as 
Homer and Hesiod do of that of Greece. But (to use 
in part the language of the Howitts) it presents this 
to us not as Homer does, worked up into one great 
poem, hut as the rhapsodists of Greece presented to 
Homer's hands the materials for that great poem in 
the various hymns and ballads of the fall of Troy, 
which they sung all over Greece. No Homer ever 
arose in Norseland to mould all these sublime lyrics 
of the Elder Edda into one lordly epic. The story of 
Siegfried and Brynhild, which occupies the latter por- 
tion of the Elder Edda, was, in later times in Germany 
moulded into the great and beautiful Niebelun gen- Lied ; 
although it was much altered by the German poet or 


by German tradition. The poems of the Elder Edda 
show us what the myths of Greece would have been 
without a Homer. They remain huge, wild and frag- 
mentary; full of strange gaps rent into their very vitals 
by the strokes of rude centuries; yet like the ruin of 
the Colosseum or the temples of Paistum, standing aloft 
amid the daylight of the present time, magnificent testi- 
monials of the stupendous genius of the race which 
reared them. There is nothing besides the Bible, 
which sits in a divine tranquillity of unapproachable 
nobility like a king of kings amongst all other books, 
and the poem of Homer itself, which can compare 
in all the elements of greatness with the Edda. There 
is a loftiness of stature, and a firmness of muscle 
about it which no poets of the same race have ever 
since reached. The only production since, that can 
be compared with the Elder Edda in profoundness of 
thought, is that of Shakespeare, the Hercules or Thor 
in English literature, that heroic mind of divine line- 
age which passed through the hell-gates of the Roman 
school-system unscathed. The obscurity which still 
hangs over some parts of the Elder Edda, like the deep 
shadows crouching amid the ruins of the past, is the 
result of neglect, and will in due time be removed; 
but amid this stand forth the boldest masses of intel- 
lectual masonry. We are astonished at the Avisdom 
which is shaped into maxims, and at the tempestuous 
strength of passions to which all modern emotions seem 
puny and constrained. Amid the bright sun-light of 
a fai'-off time, surrounded by the densest shadows of 
forgotten ages, we come at once into the midst of gods 
and heroes, goddesses and fair women, giants and dwarfs, 
moving about in a world of wonderful construction, 
unlike any other world or creation which God has 


founded or man has imagined, but still beautiful be- 
yond conception. 

The Elder Edda opens with Voluspa (the vala's 
prophecy), and this song may be regarded as one of 
the oldest, if not the oldest, poetic monument of the 
North. In it the mysterious vala, or prophetess, seated 
somewhere unseen in the marvelous heaven, sings an 
awful song of the birth of gods and men ; of the great 
Ygdrasil, or Tree of Existence, whose roots and branches 
extend through all regions of space, and concludes her 
thrilling hymn with the terrible Ragnarok, or Twilight 
of the gods, when Odin and the other gods perish in 
the flames that devour all creation, and the new heavens 
and new earth rise beautifully green to receive the reign 
of Balder and of milder natures. 

The second song in the Elder Edda is Havamal (the 
high-song of Odin). Odin himself is represented as its 
author. It contains a pretty complete code of Odinic 
morality and precepts of wisdom. The moral and social 
axioms that are brought together in Hiivamal will sur- 
prise the reader, who has been accustomed to regard the 
Norsemen as a rude and half wild race, hunting in the 
savage forests of the North, or scouring the coasts of 
Europe in quest of plunder. They contain a profound 
knowledge, not merely of human nature, but of human 
nature in its various social and domestic relations. They 
are' more like the proverbs of Solomon than anything in 
human literature. 

The third poem in the Elder Edda is Vafthrudnismal 
(that is, Vafthrudner's speech or song). Vafthrudner is 
derived from vaf, a Aveb or weaving, and thrndr, strong ; 
hence Vafthrudner is the powerful weaver, the one power- 
ful in riddles, and it is the name of a giant, who in the 
first part of the poem propounds a series of intricate 


questions or riddles. Odin tells his wife Frigg that he 
desires to visit the all-wise giant Vafthrudner, to find 
out from him the secrets of the past and measure strength 
with him. Frigg advises him not to undertake this 
journey, saying that she considers Vafthrudner the 
strongest of all giants. Odin reminds her of his many 
perilous adventures and experiences, arguing that these 
are sufficient to secure him in his curiosity to see Vaf- 
thrudner's halls. Frigg wishes him a prosperous jour- 
ney and safe return, and also the necessary presence of 
mind at his meeting with the giant. Odin then pro- 
ceeds on his journey and enters the halls of Vafthrudner 
in the guise of a mortal wayfarer, by name Gangraad. 
He greets the lord of the house, and says he is come to 
learn whether he was a wise or omniscient giant. Such 
an address vexes Vafthrudner, coming as it did from a 
stranger, and he soon informs Gangraad that if he is 
not wiser than himself he shall not leave the hall alive. 
But the giant, finding, after he had asked the stranger 
a few questions, that he really had a worthy antagonist 
in his presence, invites him to take a seat, and challenges 
him to enter into a disputation, that they might measure 
their intellectual strength, on the condition that the van- 
quished party — the one unable to answer a question jout 
to him by the other — should forfeit his head. Odin 
accepts this dangerous challenge. They accordingly dis- 
cuss, by question and answer, the principal topics of 
Norse mythology. The pretended Gangraad asks the 
giant many questions, which the latter answers correctly ; 
but when the former at length asks his adversary what 
Odin whispered in the ear of his son Balder before he 
had been placed on the funeral pile — a question by 
which the astonished giant becomes aware that his an- 
tagonist is Odin himself, who was alone capable of 


answering it, — the giant acknowledges himself van- 
quished, and sees with terror that he cannot avoid the 
death which he in his cruel pride had intended to inflict 
upon an innocent wanderer. 

The fourth song is Grimnisinal (the song of Grim- 
ner). It begins with a preface in prose, in which it is 
related that Odin, under the name of Grimner, visited 
his foster-son Geirrod, and the latter, deceived by a false 
representation by Frigg, takes him for a sorcerer, makes 
him sit between two fires and pine there without nour- 
ishment for eight days, until Agnar, the king's son, 
reaches him a drinking-horn. Hereupon Grimner sings 
the song which bears his name. Lamenting his con- 
finement and blessing Agnar, he goes on to picture the 
twelve abodes of the gods and the splendors of Valhal, 
which he describes at length, and then speaks of the 
mythological world-tree Ygdrasil, of the valkyries, of 
the giant Ymer, of the ship Skidbladner, and adds 
various other cosmological explanations. 

The fifth song is Skirnismal, or For Skirnis (the 
journey of Skirner). This gives in the form of a dia- 
logue the story of Frey and Gerd, of his love to her, 
and his wooing her through the agency of his faithful 
servant Skirner, after whom the song is named. 

The sixth is the Lay of Harbard. It is a dialogue 
between Thor and the ferryman Harbard, who refuses 
to carry him over the stream. This furnishes an occa- 
sion for each of them to recount his exploits. They 
contrast their deeds and exploits. The contest is con- 
tinued without interruption until near the end of the 
poem, where Thor finally oflfers a compromise, again re- 
questing to be taken over the river. Harbard, who is 
in fact Odin, again refuses in decided terms. Then 
Thor asks him to show him another way. This request 


Harbard seems in a manner to comply with, but refers 
Thor to Fjorg-yn, his mother. Thor asks how far it 
is, but Harbard makes enigmatical answers. Thor 
ends the conversation with threats and Harbard with 
evil wishes. 

The seventh poem is the Song of Hymer. The gods 
of Asgard are invited to a banquet with the sea-god 
^Eger. Thor goes to the giant Hymer for a large ket- 
tle, in which to brew ale for the occasion. When Thor 
has arrived at the home of Hymer he persuades the 
giant to take him along on a fishing expedition, in 
which Thor fishes up the Midgard-serpent, which he 
would have killed had it not been for Hymer, who cut 
off the fish-line. Thor succeeds in carrying off the 
kettle, but has to slay Hymer and other giants who 
pursue him. 

The eighth is Lokasenna (or Loke's quarrel.) This 
poem has a preface in prose. This is also a banquet at 
^ger's. It takes place immediately after Balder's death, 
Loke was present. He slew one of ^ger's servants and 
bad to flee to the woods, but soon returns, enters ^ger's 
hall, and immediately begins to abuse the gods in the 
most shameful manner: first Brage, then Idnn, Gefjun, 
Odin, Frigg, Freyja, Njord, and the others, until Thor 
finally appears and drives him away. There is a prose 
conclusion to this poem, describing Loke's punishment. 
A profound tragedy characterizes this poem. Although 
Loke is abusive, he still speaks the truth, and he ex- 
poses all the faults of the gods, which foreshadow their 
final fall. Peace disappeared with the death of Balder, 
and the gods, conscious that Ragnarok is inevita])le, 
are overpowered by distraction and sorrow. 

The ninth poem is the Song of Thrym. This gives 
an account of the loss of Thor's hammer, and tells how 


Loke helped him to get it back from the giant Thrym. 

The tenth is the Song of Alvis (the all-wise). Alvis 
comes for Thor's daughter as his bride. Thor cunningly 
detains him all night by asking him questions concern- 
ing the various worlds he has visited. Alvis answers 
and teaches him the names by which the most impor- 
tant things in nature are called in the respective lan- 
guages of different worlds: of men, of the gods, of the 
vans, of the giants, of the elves, of the dwarfs, and 
finally of the realms of the dead and of the supreme 
god. The dwarf, being one of those mythical objects 
which cannot endure the light of day, was detained till 
dawn without accomplishing his object. 

The eleventh poem is Vegtam's Lay. Odin assumes 
the name Vegtam. In order to arrive at certainty con- 
cerning the portentous future of the gods, he descends 
to Niflheim, goes into the abodes of Hel, and calls the 
vala up from her grave-mound, asking her about the 
fate of Balder. She listens to him indignantly, answers 
his questions unwillingly, but at last discovers that Veg- 
tam is the king of the gods, and angrily tells him to 
ride home. 

We will omit a synopsis of the remainder, and 
merely give their titles, as they do not enter so com- 
pletely into the system of mythology as the first eleven : 
(12) Kigsmaal (Song of Rig), (13) The Lay of Hyndla, 
(14) The Song of Volund, (15) The Song of Helge Hjor- 
vardson, (16) Song of Helge Hundingsbane I, (17) Song 
of Helge Hundingsbane II, (18) Song of Sigurd Fafnis- 
bane I, (19) Song of Sigurd Fafnisbane II, (20) Song 
of Fafner, (21) Song of Sigdrifii, (22) Song of Sigurd, 
(23) Song of Gudrun I, (24) Song of Gudrun III, (25) 
Brynhild's Eide to Hel, (26) Song of Gudrun II, (27) 
Song of Gudrun III, (28) The Weeping of Odrun, (29) 


The Son-g of Atle, (30) The Speech of Atle, (31) The 
Challenge of Gudrun, (32) The Song of Hamder, (33) 
The Song of Grotte, (34) Extracts from the Younger 
Edda, (35) Extracts from the Volsunga Saga, (36) Song 
of Svipdag I, (37) Song of Svipdag II, (38) The Lay 
of the Sun, (39) Odin's Eaven-Cry. 

The antiquity of these poems cannot be fixed, but 
they certainly carry us back to the remotest period of 
the settlement of Norway by the Goths. 

It may be added here that many of the poems of the 
Elder Edda, as well as much of the Old Norse poetry 
generally, are very difficult to understand, on account 
of the bold metaphorical language in which they are 
written. The poet did not call an object by its usual 
name, but borrowed a figure by which to present it, 
either from the mythology or from some other source. 
Thus he would call the sky the skull of the giant Ymer ; 
tlie rainbow he called the bridge of the gods; gold was 
the tears of Freyja; poetry, the 2}resent or drinh of Odin. 
The earth was called indifferently the ivife of Odin, the 
flesh of Ymer, the daughter of night, the vessel that 
floats on the ages, or the foundation of the air; herbs 
and plants were called the hair or the fleece of the 
earth. A battle was called a hath of blood, the hail of 
Odin, the shock of bucklers; the sea was termed the 
fleld of pirates, the girdle of the earth ; ice, the greatest 
of all bridges; a ship, the horse of the waves; the 
tongue, the sivord of words, etc. 

II. The Yotmger Edda, 

written by Snorre Sturleson, the author of the famous 
Hcimskringla (born 1178, died 1241), is mostly prose, and 
may be regarded as a sort of commentary upon the 
Elder Edda. The prose Edda consists of two parts: 

12G Beowulf's drapa and niebelungen-lied. 

Gylfaginning (the deluding of Gylfe), and tlie Bragarse- 
8ur or Skiildskaparmal (the conversations of Brage, the 
god of poetry, or the treatise on poetry). Gylfaginning 
tells how the Swedish king Gylfe makes a journey to 
Asgard, the abode of the gods, where Odin instructs 
him in the old faith, and gradually relates to him 
the myths of the Norsemen. Tlie manner in which 
the whole is told reminds us of A TJiousand and One 
Nights, or of poems from a later time, as for instance 
Boccaccio's Decameron. It is a prose synopsis of the 
whole Asa faith, with here and there a quotation 
from the Elder Edda by way of elucidation. It shows 
a great deal of ingenuity and talent on the part of 
its author, and is the most perspicuous and clear 
presentation of the mythology that we possess. 

But all the material for the correct presentation 
of the Norse mythology is not found in the Eddas; 
or rather we do not perfectly understand the Eddas, 
if we confine our studies to them alone. For a full 
comprehension of the myths, it is necessary to study 
carefully all the semi-mythological Icelandic Sagas, 
which constitute a respectable library by themselves; 
and in connection with these we must read the Anglo- 
Saxon Beowulf's Drapa, and the German Niehelungen- 
Lied. In the next place, we must examine carefully 
all the folk-lore of the Gothic race, and we must, in 
short, study the manifestations of the Gothic mind 
and spirit everywhere : in the development of the 
State and of the Church, in their poetry and history, 
in their various languages and numerous dialects, in 
their literature, in their customs and manners, and 
in their popular belief If we neglect all these we 
shall never understand the Eddas; if we neglect the 
Eddas we shall never understand the other sources of 


mythology. They mutually explain each other, and 
the Gothic race must sooner or later begin to study 
its own history. 

That the Odinic mythology exercised a mighty in- 
fluence in forming the national character of the Norse- 
men, becomes evident when we compare the doctrines 
of their faith with the popular life as portrayed in the 
Sagas. Still we must bear in mind that this national 
spirit was not created by this faitli. The harsh cli- 
mate of the North modified not only the Norse my- 
thology, but also moulded indefinitely the national 
character, and then the two, the mythology and the 
national character, acted and reacted ujDon each other. 
Thus bred up to fight with nature in a constant 
battle for existence, and witnessing the same struggle 
in the life of his gods, the Norseman became fearless, 
honest and truthful, ready to smite and ready to for- 
give, shrinking not from pain himself and careless 
about inflicting it on others. Beholding in external 
nature and in his mythology the struggle of conflict- 
ing forces, he naturally looked on life as a field for 
warfare. The ice-bound fjords and desolate fells, the 
mournful wail of the waving pine-branches, the stern 
strife of frost and fire, the annual death of the short- 
lived summer, made the Norseman sombre, if not 
gloomy, in his thoughts, and inured him to the rugged 
independence of the country. The sternness of the land 
in which he lived was reflected in his character; the 
latter was in turn reflected in the tales which he 
told of his gods and heroes, and thus the Norseman 
and his mythology mutually influenced each other. 

The influence of the Asa faith, says Prof. Keyser, 
upon the popular spirit of the Norsemen, must be re- 
garded from quite another point of view than that 


of Christianity at a later period. The Asa faith was, 
so to speak, inborn with the Norsemen, as it had de- 
veloped itself from certain germs and assumed form 
with the popular life almost unconsciously to the latter. 
Christianity, on the oth^r hand, was given to the people 
as a religious system complete in itself, intended for 
all the nations of the earth; one which by its own 
divine power opened for itself a way to conviction, and 
through that conviction operated on the popular spirit 
in a direction previously pointed out by the funda- 
mental principles of the religion itself. As the system 
of the Asa faith arose without any conscious object of 
affecting the morals, therefore it did not embrace any 
actual code of morals in the higher sense of this term. 
The Asa doctrine does not pronounce by positive ex- 
pression what is virtue and what is vice ; it presupposes 
a consciousness thereof in its votaries. It only repre- 
sents virtue as reaping its own rewards and vice its 
own punishment, if not here upon the earth, then 
with certainty beyond the grave. Thus Keyser. 

The Norse system of mythology embodied the doc- 
trine of an imperishable soul in man; it had Vallial 
and Gimle set apart for and awaiting the brave and 
virtuous, and Helheim and Naastrand for the wicked. 

The moral and social maxims of the Norsemen are 
represented as being uttered by Odin himself in the 
Havamal (high song of Odin), the second song of the 
Elder Edda, and by the valkyrie Sigdrifa in the Sigrdri- 
fumal (the lay of Sigdrifa), the twenty-first poem of 
the same work. Eead these poems and maxims, and 
judge whether they will warrant the position repeatedly 
taken in this work, that the electric spark that has 
made England and America great and free came not 
from the aboriginal Britons, not from the Roman 


enslavers, but must be sought in the prophetic, imagina- 
tive and poetic childhood of the Gothic race. Eead 
these poems and judge whether the eminent English 
writer, Samuel Laing, is right when he says : 

All that men hope for of good government and future im- 
provement in their physical and moral condition, — all that 
civilized men enjoy at this day of civil, religious and political 
liberty, — the British constitution, representative legislation, the 
trial by jury, security of property, freedom of mind and person, 
the influence of public opinion over the conduct of public affairs, 
the Reformation, the liberty of the press, the spirit of the age, 
— all that is or has been of value to man in modern times as a 
member of society, either in Europe or in the New World, may 
be traced to the spark left burning upon our shores by these 
northern barbarians. 

Eead these poems and find truth in the words of 
Baron Montesquieu, the admirable author of The Spirit 
of Laivs (L'Esprit des Lois), when he says : The great 
prerogative of Scandinavia, and what ought to recom- 
mend its inhabitants beyond every people upon earth, 
is, that they afforded the great resource to the liberty 
of Eurojie, that is, to almost all the liberty that is 
among men ; and when he calls the North the forge 
of those instruments which broke the fetters manufact- 
ured in the South. 

In the old Gothic religion were embodied principles 
and elements which had a tendency to make its votaries 
brave, independent, honest, earnest, just, charitable, pru- 
dent, temperate, liberty-loving, etc.; principles and morals 
that in due course of time and under favorable circum- 
stances evolved the Eepublic of Iceland, the Magna 
Charta of England, and the Declaration of Independence. 

The rules of life as indicated by the High Song of 
Odin and in Sigrdrifumal, in which the valkyrie gives 


counsel to Sigurd Fafnisbane, are brieliy summed up 
by Professor Keyser as follows: 

1. The recognition of the depravity of human nature, which 
calls for a struggle against our natural desires and forbearance 
toward the weakness of others. 

2. Courage and faith both to bear the hard decrees of the 
norns and to fight against enemies. 

3. The struggle for independence in life with regard to 
knowledge as well as to fortune ; an independence which should, 
therefore, be earned by a love of learning and industry. 

4. A strict adherence to oaths and promises. 

5. Candor and fidelity as well as foresight in love, devotion 
to the tried friend, but dissimulation toward the false and war 
to the death against the implacable enemy. 

6. Respect for old age. 

7. Hospitality, liberality, and charity to the poor. 

8. A prudent foresight in word and deed. 

9. Temperance, not only in the gratification of the senses, but 
also in the exercise of power. 

10. Contentment and cheerfulness. 

11. Modesty and politeness in intercourse. 

12. A desire to win the good will of our fellow men, espe- 
cially to surround ourselves with a steadfast circle of devoted 
kinsmen and faithful friends. 

13. A careful treatment of the bodies of the dead. 

Listen now to Odin himself, as he gives precepts of 
wisdom to mankind in 


1. All door-ways 
Before going forward. 
Should be looked to ; 
For difficult it is to know 
Where foes may sit 
Within a dwelling 

2. Givers, hail! 

A guest is come in: 


Where shall he sit? 
In much haste is he, 
Who on his ways has 
To try his luck. 

Fire is needful 

To him who is come in. 

And whose knees are frozen ; 

Food and raiment 

A man requires, 

Who o'er the fell has traveled. 

Water to him is needful. 

Who for refection comes, 

A towel and hospitable invitation, 

A good reception ; 

If he can get it. 

Discourse and answer. 

Wit is needful 

To him who travels far: 

At home all is easy. 

A laughing-stock is he 

Who nothing knows. 

And with the instructed sits,* 

Of his understanding 

No one should be proud. 

But rather in conduct cautious. 

When the prudent and taciturn 

Come to a dwelling. 

Harm seldom befalls the cautious ; 

For a firmer friend 

No man ever gets 

Than great sagacity. 

A wary guest 
Who to refection comes 
Keeps a cautious silence ; 
With his ears listens, 
And with his eyes observes : 
So explores every prudent man. 
♦Beowulf, 1839. 


8. He is happy 

Who for himself obtains 
Fame and kind words : 
Less sure is that 
Which a man must have 
In another's breast. 

9. He is happy 

Who in himself possesses 
Fame and wit while living; 
For bad counsels 
Have oft been received 
From another's breast. 

10. A better burthen 

No man bears on the way 

Than much good sense ; 

That is thought better than riches 

In a strange place ; 

Such is the recourse of the indigent. 

11. A worse provision 

On the way he cannot carry 

Than too much beer-bibbing ; 

So good is not, 

As it is said, 

Beer for the sons of men. 

12. A worse provision 

No man can take from table 
Than too much beer-bibbing, 
For the more he drinks 
The less control he has 
Of his own mind. 

13. Oblivion's heron 'tis called 
That over potations hovers ; 
He steals the minds of men. 
With this bird's pinions 

I was fettered 

In Gunlad's dwelling. 


14. Drunk I was, 

I was over-drunk, 
At that cunning Fjalar's. 
It 's the best drunkenness 
When every one after it 
Regains his reason. 

15. Taciturn and prudent, 
And in war daring 

Should a king's children be ; 
Joyous and liberal 
Everyone should be 
Until his hour of death. 

16. A cowardly man 
Thinks he will ever live 
If warfare he avoids ; 
But old age will 

Give him no peace. 

Though spears may spare him. 

17. A fool gapes 

When to a house he comes, 

To himself mutters or is silent; 

But all at once, 

If he gets drink. 

Then is the man's mind displayed- 

18. He alone knows. 
Who wanders wide 

And has much experienced, 

By what disposition 

Each man is ruled. 

Who common sense possesses. 

19. Let a man hold the cup. 

Yet of the mead drink moderately. 
Speak sensibly or be silent. 
. As of a fault 
No man will admonish thee. 
If thou goest betimes to Bleep. 


20. A greedy man, 

If he be not moderate, 

Eats to Lis mortal sorrow. 

Oftentimes his belly 

Draws laughter on a silly man 

Who among the prudent comes. 

21. Cattle know 
When to go home 

And then from grazing cease; 

But a foolish man 

Never knows 

His stomach's measure. 

22. A miserable man, 
And ill-conditioned, 
Sneers at everything: 
One thing he knows not, 
Which he ought to know. 
That he is not free from faults. 

23. A foolish man 

Is all night awake. 
Pondering over everything; 
He then grows tired, 
And when morning comes 
All is lament as before. 

24. A foolish man 

Thinks all who on him smile 

To be his friends ; 

He feels it not, 

Although they speak ill of him. 

When he sits among the clever. 

25. A foolish man 

Thinks all who speak him fair 

To be his friends ; 

But he will find. 

If into court he comes. 

That he has few advocates. 


26. A foolish man 

Thinks he knows everything 

If placed in unexpected difficulty; 

But he knows not 

What to answer 

If to the test he is put. 

27. A foolish man, 

Who among people comes, 

Had best be silent ; 

For no one knows 

That he knows nothing 

Unless he talks too much. 

He who previously knew nothing 

Will still know nothing, 
Talk he ever so much. 

28. He thinks himself wise 
Who can ask questions 
And converse also ; 
Conceal his ignorance 
No one can. 

Because it circulates among men. 

29. He utters too many 
Futile words 

Who is never silent ; 

A garrulous tongue, 
If it be not checked, 

Sings often to its own harm. 

30. For a gazing-stock 

No man shall have another. 
Although he come a stranger to his house. 
Many a one thinks himself wise. 
If he is not questioned, 
And can sit in a dry habit. 

31. Clever thinks himself 

The guest who jeers a guest. 
If he takes to flight. 
Knows it not certainly 
He who prates at meat. 
Whether he babbles among foes. 


32. Many men are mutually 

Yet at table will torment each other. 
That strife will ever be ; 
Guest will guest irritate. 

33. Early meals 

A man should often take. 

Unless to a friend's house he goes ; 

Else he will sit and mope. 

Will seem half famished. 

And can of few things inquire. 

34. Long is and indirect the way 
To a bad friend's, 

Though by the road he dwell ; 
But to a good friend's 
The paths lie direct. 
Though he be far away. 

'35. A guest should depart, 
Not always stay 
In one place : 

The welcome becomes unwelcome 
If he too long continues 
In another's house. 

36> One's own house is best, 
Small though it be ; 
At home is every one his own master. 
Though he but two goats possess. 
And a straw-thatched cot. 
Even that is better than begging. 

37. One's own house is best, 
Small though it be; 
At home is every one his own master. 
Bleeding at heart is he 
Who has to ask 
For food at every meal-tide. 


38. Leaving in the field his arms, 

Let no man go 

A foot's length forward; 

For it is hard to know- 
When on his way 

A man may need his weapon. 

39. I have never found a man so bountiful 
Or so hospitable 

That he refused a present; 

Or of his property 

So liberal 

That he scorned a recompense. 

40. Of tlie property 
Which he has gained, 

No man should suffer need ; 
For the hated oft is spared 
What for the dear was destined : 
Much goes worse than is expected. 

41. With arms and vestments 
Friends should each other gladden, 

Those which are in themselves most sightly. 
Givers and requiters 
Are longest friends, 
If all else goes well. 

43. To his friend 

A man should be a friend, 
And gifts with gifts requite; 
Laughter with laughter 
Men should receive. 
But leasing with lying. 

43. To his friend 

A man should be a friend, 
To him and to his friend ; 
But of his foe 
No man shall 
His friend's friend be. 


44. Know if thou liast a friend 
Whom thou fully trustest, 

And from whom thou would'st good derive; 
Thou should'st blend thy mind with his. 

And gifts exchange. 

And often go to see him. 

45. If thou hast another 

Whom thou little trustest. 

Yet would'st good from him derive. 

Thou should'st speak him fair. 

But think craftily, 

And leasing pay with lying. 

46. But of him yet further 
Whom thou little trustest, 

And thou suspectest his affection, 
Before him thou should'st laugh. 
And contrary to thy thoughts speak; 
Requital should the gift resemble. 

47. I once was young, 

I was journeying alone 
And lost my way; 
Rich I thought myself 
When I met another: 
Man is the joy of man. 

48. Liberal and brave 
Men live best. 

They seldom cherish sorrow; 

But a bare-minded man 

Dreads everything ; 

The niggardly is uneasy even at gifts. 

49. My garments in a field 
I gave away 

To two wooden men : 
Heroes they seemed to be 
When they got cloaks ; * 
Exposed to insult is a naked man. 

* The tailor makes the man. 


50. A tree withers 

That on a hill-top stands ; 
Protects it neither bark nor leaves : 
Such is the man 
Whom no one favors : 
Why should he live long? 

51. Hotter than fire 

Love for five days burns 

Between false friends ; 

But is quenched 

When the sixth day comes. 

And friendship is all impaired 

52. Something great 

Is not always to be given. 

Praise is often for a trifle bought 

With half a loaf 

And a tilted vessel 

I got myself a comrade. 

53. Little are the sand grains. 
Little the wits. 

Little the minds of men ; 

For all men 

Are not wise alike : 

Men are everywhere by halves 

54. Moderately wise 
Should each one be, 
But never over-wise ; 
For a wise man's heart 
Is seldom glad. 

If he is all-wise who owns it 

55. Moderately wise 
Should each one be. 
But never over-wise : 
Of those men 

The lives are fairest 
Who know much well. 


56. Moderately wise 
Should each one be, 
But never over- wise : 
His destiny let know 
No man beforehand ; 

His mind will be freest from care. 

57. Brand burns from brand 
Until it is burnt out. 

Fire is from fire quickened: 

Man to man 

Becomes known by speech, 

But a fool by his bashful silence. 

58. He should rise early 

Who another's property or life 

Desires to have : 

Seldom a sluggish wolf 

Gets prey. 

Or a sleeping man victory. 

59. Early should rise 

He who has few workers. 
And go his work to see to ; 
Greatly is he retarded 
Who sleeps the morn away . 
Wealth half depends on energy. 

60. Of dry planks 
And roof shingles 

A man knows the measure ; 

Of the firewood 

That may sufiice 

Both measure and time. 

61. Washed and refected 

Let a man ride to TMng* 

Although his garments be not too good; 

Of his shoes and breeches 

Let no one be ashamed, 

Nor of his horse, 

Although he have not a good one. 

* The public assembly. 


62. Inquire and impart 
Should every man of sense. 
Who will be accounted sage. 
Let one only know, 

A second may not ; 

If three, all the world knows. 

63. Gasps and gapes, 

When to the sea he comes, 
The eagle over old ocean ; 
So is a man 

Who among many conies. 
And has few advocates. 

64. His power should 
Every sagacious man 
Use with discretion. 
For he will find. 

When among the bold he comes. 
That no one alone is doughtiest. 

65. Circumspect and reserved 
Every man should be. 

And wary in trusting friends ; 
Of the words 

That a man says to another 
He often pays the penalty. 

66. Much too early 

I came to many places, 

But too late to others ; 

The beer was drunk, 

Or not ready: 

The disliked seldom hits the moment. 

67. Here and there I should 
Have been invited 

If I a meal had needed ; 
Or two hams had hung 
At that true friend's 
Where of one I had eaten. 


68. Fire is best 

Among the sons of men, 

And the sight of the sun, 

If his health 

A man can have, 

With a life free from vice. 

69. No man lacks everything. 
Although his health be bad : 
One in his sons is happy, 
One in his kin. 

One in abundant wealth. 
One in his good works. 

70. It is better to live. 
Even to live miserably ; 

A living man can always get a cow. 

I saw fire consume 

The rich man's property, 

And death stood without his door. 

71. The halt can ride on horseback, 
The one-handed drive cattle ; 
The deaf, fight and be useful : 
To be blind is better 

Than to be burnt : * 

No one gets good from a corpse. 

72. A son is better 
Even if born late. 

After his father's departure. 

Gravestones seldom 

Stand by the way-side 

Unless raised by a kinsman to a kinsman. 

73. Two are adversaries : 

The tongue is the bane of the head : 
Under every cloak 
I expect a hand. 

*That is, dead on the funeral pile. 


74. At night is joyful 

He who is sure of traveling entertainment ; 

A ship's yards are short ; 

Variable is an autumn night. 

Many are the weather's changes 

In five days. 

But more in a month. 

75. He knows not, 
Who knows nothing, 

That many a one apes another. 

One man is rich, 

Another poor: 

Let him not be thought blamewortliy. 

76. Cattle die, 
Kindred die. 

We ourselves also die ; 
But the fair fame 
Never dies 
Of him who has earned it. 

77. Cattle die. 
Kindred die, 

We ourselves also die ; 
But I know one thing 
That never dies, — 
Judgment on each one dead. 

78. Full storehouses I saw 
At Dives' sons': 

Now bear they the beggar's staff. 
Such are riches, 
As is the twinkling of an eye : 
Of friends they are most fickle. 

79. A foolish man. 
If he acquires 

Wealth or woman's love. 

Pride grows within him, 

But wisdom never : 

He goes on more and more arrogant. 


80. Thus 'tis made manifest. 

If of runes thou questionest him, 
Those to the high ones known. 
Which the great powers invented, 
And the great tallier* painted. 
That he had best hold silence. 

81. At eve the day is to be praised, 
A woman after she is burnt,f 

A sword after it is proved, 
A maid after she is married, 
Ice after it has been crossed, 
Beer after it is drunk. 

82. In the wind one should hew wood. 
In a breeze row out to sea, 

In the dark talk with a lass, 

Many are the eyes of day. 

In a ship voyages are to be made. 

But a shield is for protection, 

A sword for striking, 

But a damsel for a kiss. 

83. By the fire one should drink beer, 
On the ice slide ; 

Buy a horse that is lean, 
A sword that is rusty; 
Feed a horse at home, 
But a dog at the farm. 

84. In a maiden's words 

No one should place faith. 

Nor in what a woman says ; 

For on a turning wheel 

Have their hearts been formed. 

And guile in their breasts been laid. 

85. In a creaking bow, 
A burning flame, 

^ A yawning wolf, 

A chattering crow, 

* Odin. t Dead. 


A grunting swine, 
A rootless tree, 
A waxing wave, 
A boiling kettle, 

86. A flying dart, 

A falling billow, 
A one night's ice, 
A coiled serpent, 
A woman's bed-talk 
Or a broken sword, 
A bear's play 
Or a royal child, 

87. A sick calf, 

A self-willed thrall, 

A flattering prophetess, 

A corpse newly slain, 

A serene sky, 

A laughing lord, 

A barking dog 

And a harlot's grief, 

88. An early-sown field. 
Let no one trust. 

Nor prematurely in a son : 
Weather rules the field. 
And wit the son, 
Each of which is doubtful. 

89. A brother's murderer. 
Though on the high-road met, 
A half-burnt house. 

An over-swift horse 
(A horse is useless 
If a leg be broken ) : 
No man is so confiding 
As to trust any of these. 

90. Such is the love of women. 
Who falsehood meditate. 

As if one drove not rough-shod 
On slippery ice, 


A spirited two-year-old 

And unbroken horse ; 

Or as in a raging storm 

A helmless ship is beaten ; 

Or as if the halt were set to catch 

A reindeer in the thawing fell.* 

91. Openly I now speak. 
Because I both sexes know. 

Unstable are men's minds toward woiaen ; 
'Tis then we speak most fair, 
When we most falsely think: 
That deceives even the cautious. 

92. Fair shall speak. 
And money offer, 

Who would obtain a woman's love 

Praise the form 

Of a fair damsel ; 

He gets, who courts her. 

93. At love should no one 
Ever wonder 

In another : 

A beauteous countenance 

Oft captivates the wise, 

Which captivates not the foolish. 

94. Let no one wonder at 
Another's folly. 

It is the lot of many. 
All-powerful desire 
Makes of the sons of men 
Fools even of the wise. 

95. The mind only knows 
What lies near the heart; 

That alone is conscious of our affections 

No disease is worse 

To a sensible man 

Than not to be content with himself. 

* Such lines as this show the Norse origin of the Edda. 


96. That I experienced 
When in the reeds I sat 
Awaiting my delight. 
Body and soul to me 
Was that discreet maiden: 
Nevertheless I possess her not. 

97. Billing's lass 

On her couch 1 found. 

Sun-bright, sleeping. 

A prince's joy 

To me seemed naught, 

If not with that form to live. 

98. Yet nearer eve 

Must thou, Odin, come, she said. 

If thou wilt talk the maiden over; 

All will be disastrous 

Unless we alone 

Are privy to such misdeed. 

99. I returned, 
Thinking to love 
At her wise desire ; 
I thought 

I should obtain 

Her whole heart and love. 

100. When next I came. 
The bold warriors were 
All awake, 

With lights burning, 
And bearing torches : 

101. But at the approach of mora, 
When again I came, 

The household all was sleeping; 
The good damsel's dog 
Alone I found 
Tied to the bed. 


102. Many a fair maiden. 
When rightly known. 
Toward men is fickle : 
That I experienced 
When that discreet maiden 
I decoyed into danger : 
Contumely of every kind 
That wily girl 

Heaped upon me ; 

Nor of that damsel gained I aught. 

103. At home let a man be cheerful, 
And toward a guest liberal ; 

Of wise conduct he should be. 

Of good memory and ready speech ; 

If much knowledge he desires. 

He must often talk on what is good. 

Fimbulfambi he is called 

Who little has to say : 

Such is the nature of the simple. 

104. The old giant I sought ; 
Now I am come back : 
Little got I there by silence; 
In many words 

I spoke to my advantage 
In Suttung's halls.* 

105. Gunlad gave me. 
On her golden seat, 

A draught of the precious mead ; 

A bad recompense I afterwards made her 

For her whole soul, 

Her fervent love. 

106. Rate's mouth I caused 
To make a space. 

And to gnaw the rock ; 
Over and under me 

* For the story of Suttung and Gunlad, see second part, pp. 246-253. 


Were the giant's ways: 
Thus I my head did peril. 

107. Of a well assumed formi 
I made good use: 

Pew things fail the wise, 
For Odrserer is now come up 
To men's earthly dwellings. 

108. 'Tis to me doubtful, 
That I could have come 
From the giant's courts. 
Had not Gunlad aided me, — 
That good damsel 

Over whom 1 laid my arm. 

109. On the day following 
Came the frost-giants 

To learn something of the High One 
In the High One's hall ; 
After Bolverk they inquired, 
Whether he with the gods were come. 
Or Suttung had destroyed him. 

110. Odin I believe 

A ring-oath* gave. 

Who in his faith will trust? 

Suttung defrauded, 

Of his drink bereft, 

And Gunlad made to weep! 

111. Time 't is to discourse 

From the speaker's chair. 

By the well of Urd 

I silent sat, 

I saw and meditated, 

I listened to men's words. 

* In the North a holy oath was taken on a ring kept in the temple for 
that purpose. 


112. Of runes I heard discourse, 
And of things divine. 

Nor of risting* them were they silent, 
Nor of sage counsels. 
At the High One's hall. 
In the High One's hall 
I thus heard say : 

113. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

Eise not at night, 

Unless to explore, 

Or act compelled to go out. 

114. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 
In an enchantress' embrace 
Thou mayest not sleep. 
So that in her arms she clasp thee. 

115. She will be the cause 
That thou carest not 

For Thing or prince's words; 

Food thou wilt shun 

And human joys ; 

Sorrowful wilt thou go to sleep. 

116. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 
Another's wife 
Entice thou never 
To secret converse. 

117. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

By fell or firth 

If thou have to travel, 

Provide thee well with food. 

* Carving: runes are risted = runes are carved. 


118. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

A bad man 

Let thou never 

Know thy misfortunes ; 

For from a bad man 

Thou never wilt obtain 

A return for thy good will. 

119. I saw mortally 
Wound a man 

A wicked woman's words; 

A false tongue 

Caused his death. 

And most unrighteously. 

120. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

If thou knowest thou hast a friend. 

Whom thou well canst trust, 

Go oft to visit him ; 

For with brushwood overgrown 

And with high grass 

Is the way that no one treads. 

121. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

A good man attract to thee 

In pleasant converse, 

And salutary speech learn, while thou livest. 

122. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 
With thy friend 
Be thou never 
First to quarrel. 
Care gnaws the heart. 


If thou to no one canst 
Thy whole mind disclose, 

123. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 
Words thou never 
Shouldst exchange 
With a witless fool. 

124. For from an ill-conditioned man 
Thou wilt never get 

A return for good ; 
But a good man will 
Bring thee favor 
By his praise. 

125. There is a mingling of afiFection, 
Where one can tell 

Another all his mind. 
Everything is better 
Than being with the deceitful. 
He is not another's friend 
Who ever says as he says. 

126. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

Even in three words 

Quarrel not with a worse man : 

Often the better yields, 

When the worse strikes. 

127. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

Be not a shoemaker, 

Nor a shaftmaker. 

Unless for thyself it be ; 

For a shoe, if ill made. 

Or a shaft if crooked. 

Will call down evil on thee. 


128. I counsel tliee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 
Wherever of injury thou knowest. 
Regard that injury as thy own; 
And give to thy foes no peace. 

129. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

Rejoiced at evil 

Be thou never, 

But let good give thee pleasure. 

130. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

In a battle 

Look not up,* 

(Like swine f 

The sous of ruen then become), 

That men may not fascinate thee. 

131. If thou wilt induce a good woman 
To pleasant converse, 

Thou must promise fair, 

And hold to it : 

No one turns from good, if it can be got. 

133. I enjoin thee to be wary. 
But not over- wary ; 
At drinking be thou most wary, 
And with another's wife ; 
And thirdly. 
That thieves delude thee not. 

133. With insult or derision 
Treat thou never 
A guest or wayfarer ; 
They often little know, 

* In a battle we must not look up, but forward. 

+ To become panic-stricken, which the Norsemen called to become swine. 


Who sit within, 

Of what race they are who come. 

134. Vices and virtues 

The pons of mortals bear 

In their breasts mingled; 

No one is so good 

That no failing attends him, 

Nor so bad as to be good for nothini^. 

13^ At a hoary speaker 
Laugh thou never. 

Often is good that which the aged utter; 
Oft from a shriveled hide 
Discreet words issue, 
From those ,whose skin is pendent 
And decked with scars, 
And Who go loitering among the vile. 

136. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou wilt profit, if thou takest it. 

Rail not at a guest. 

Nor from thy gate thrust him ; 

Treat well the indigent. 

They will speak well of thee. 

137. Strong is the bar 
That must be raised 
To admit all.* 

Do thou give a penny. 

Or they will call down on thee 

Every ill on thy limbs. 

138. I counsel thee, Lodfafner, 
To take advice ; 

Thou will profit, if thou takest it. 
Wherever thou beer drinkest, 

* The meaning is, it is difficult to show hospitality to everybody. A door 
would have to be strong to stand so much opening and shutting. 


Invoke to tliee the power of earth ; 

For earth is good against drink. 

Fire for distempers, 

The oak for constipation, 

A corn-ear for sorcery, 

A hall for domestic strife. 

In bitter hates invoke the moon ; 

The bitter for bite-injuries is good, 

But runes against calamity ; 

Fluid let earth absorb. 

This is all of the famous Havamal of the Elder 
Edda except the so-called Eunic Chapter, which will 
be given in the second part in connection with the 
myth of Odin. Hear now what the valkyrie has to say 
to Sigurd Fafnisbaue in 

SIGRDRfFUMAL {the Lay of Sigdrifa). 

Sigurd rode up the Hindarfiall, and directed his 
course southward toward Frankland. In the fell he 
saw a great light, as if a fire were burning, which 
blazed up to the sky. On approaching it, there stood a 
shialdhorg, and over it a banner. Sigurd went into the 
skialdborg, and saw a warrior lying within it asleep, 
completely armed. He first took the helmet oflf the 
warrior's head, and saw that it was a woman. Her 
corselet was as fast as if it had grown to her body. 
With his sword. Gram, he ripped the corselet from the 
upper opening downwards, and then through both 
sleeves. He then took the corselet off" from her, when 
she awoke, sat up, and, on seeing Sigurd, said: 

1. What has my corselet cut? 

Why from my sleep have I started? 
Who has cast from me 
The fallow bands? 


SigmuDd's son 
(Recently did the raven 
Feed on carrion)* 
And Sigurd's sword. 


2. Long have I slept, 

Long been with sleep oppressed. 

Long are mortals' suiFerings ! 

Odin is the cause 

That I have been unable 

To cast off torpor. 

Sigurd sat clown and asked her name. She then took 
a horn filled with mead, and gave him the minnis-cicp 
(cup of memory). 


3. Hail to Day! 

Hail to the sons of Day ! 

To Night and her daughter, hail ! 

With placid eyes 

Behold us here. 

And here sitting give us victory. 

4. Hail to the gods ! 
Hail to the goddesses ! 

Hail to the bounteous earth ! 

Words and wisdom 

Give to us noble twain. 

And healing hands while we live. 

She was named Sigdrifa, and was a valkyrie. She 
said that two kings had made war on each other, one 
of whom was named Hialmgunnar; he was old and a 
great warrior, and Odin had promised him victory. The 
other was Agnar, a brother of And, whom no divinity 
would patronize. Sigdrifa overcame Hialmgunnar in 
battle; in revenge for which Odin pricked her with a 

* The parenthesis refers to Fafner's death. 


sleep-thorn, and declared that thenceforth she should 
never have victory in battle, and should be given in 
marriage. But, said she, I said to him that I had 
bound myself by a vow not to espouse any man who 
could be made to fear. Sigurd answers, and implores 
her to teach him wisdom, as she had intelligence from 
all worlds : 


5. Beer I bear to tbee, 
Column of battle ! 
With might mingled, 
And with bright glory : 
'Tis full of song. 

And salutary saws. 
Of potent incantations, 
■♦ And joyous discourses. 

6. Sig-runes thou must know. 

If victory [sigr) thou wilt have, 

And on thy sword's hilt rist them ; 

Some on the chapes, 

Some on the guard, 

And twice name the name of Tyr. 

7. 01-(ale-)runes thou must know. 

If thou wilt not that another's wife 

Thy trust betray, if thou 

In her confide. 

On the horn must they be risted. 

And on the hand's back, 

And Naud* on the nail be scored. 

8. A cup must be blessed, 
And against peril guarded. 
And garlick in the liquor cast ; 
Then I know 

Thou wilt never have 

Mead with treachery mingled. 

* The name of a rune; our .V. 


9. Biarg-(lielp-)runes thou must know. 
If tliou wilt help 
And loose the child from women ; 
In the palm they must be graven. 
And round the joints be clasped, 
And the dises prayed for aid. 

10. Brim-(sea-)runes thou must know, 
If thou wilt have secure 

Afloat thy sailing steeds. 

On the prow they must be risted, 

And on the helm-blade, 

And with fire to the oar applied. 

No surge shall be so towering. 

Nor waves so dark. 

But from the ocean thou safe shalt come. 

11. Lim-(braucli-)runes thou must know, 
If thou a leech would be, 

And wounds know how to heal. 

On the bark they must be risted. 

And on the leaves of trees, 

Of those whose boughs bend eastward. 

12. Mal-(speecli-)runes thou must know. 
If thou wilt that no one 

For injury with hate requite thee. 
Those thou must wind, 
Those thou must wrap round. 
Those thou must altogether place 
In the assembly. 
Where people have 
Into full court to go. 

13. Hug-(thought-)runes tliou must know, 
If .thou a wiser man wilt be 

Than every other. 
Those interpreted. 
Those risted, 
Those devised Hropt,* 
From the fluid 
Which had leaked 


From Heiddraupner's * head. 
And from Hoddropner's * horn. 

14. On a rock he stood, 
With edged sword, 

A helm on his head he bore. 
Then spake Mimer's head 
Its first wise word, 
And true sayings uttered. 

15. They are, it is said, 
On the shield risted 

Which stands before the shining god, 

On Aarvak's f ear. 

And on Alsvid's f hoof. 

On the wheel which rolls 

Under Rogner's :): car. 

On Sleipner's teeth. 

And on the sledge's bands. 

16. On the bear's paw, 
And on Brage's tongue. 
On the wolf's claws. 
And the eagle's beak, 
On bloody wings, 

And on the bridge's end, 
On the releasing hand, 
And on healing's track. 

17. On glass and on gold. 
On amulets of men, 
In wine and in ale. 

And in the welcome seat, 
On Gungner's point. 
And on Gi'ane's breast. 
On the norn's nail. 
And the owl's neb. 

18. All were erased 
That were inscribed. 

And mingled with the sacred mead. 
And sent on distant ways ; 

*Mimer. tThe horses of the sun. tOdin. 


They are witli the gods, 
They are with the elves ; 
Some with the wise vans. 
Some human beings have. 

19. Those are bok-runes 
Those are biarg-runes, 
And all ol-(ale-)runes, 

And precious megin-(power-)runes 

For those who can. 

Without confusion or corruption, 

Turn them to his welfare. 

Use, if thou hast understood them. 

Until the powers perish. 

20. Now thou shalt choose, 
Since a choice is offered thee. 
Keen armed warrior ! 

My speech or silence : 
Think over it in thy mind. 
All evils have their measure. 


21. T will not flee, 

Though thou shouldst know me doomed ; 

I am not born a craven. 

Thy friendly councils all 

I will receive. 

As long as life is in me. 


22. This I thee counsel first : 
That toward thy kin 
Thou bear thee blameless. 
Take not hasty vengeance. 
Although they raise up strife : 
That, it is said, benefits the dead. 

23. This I thee counsel secondly : 
That no oath thou swear. 

If it not be true. 
Cruel bonds 


Follow broken faith: 
Accursed is the faith-breaker. 

24. This I thee counsel thirdly: 
That in the assembly thou 
Contend not with a fool ; 
For an unwise man 

Oft utters words 

Worse than he knows of. 

25. All is vain, 

If thou boldest silence; 

Then wilt thou seem a craven born, 

Or else truly accused. 

Doubtful is a servant's testimony. 

Unless a good one thou gettest. 

On the next day 

Let his life go forth. 

And so men's lies reward. 

26. This I counsel thee fourthly: 
If a wicked sorceress 

Dwell by the way. 

To go on is better 

Than there to lodge, 

Though night may overtake thee. 

27. Of searching eyes 

The sons of men have need. 

When fiercely they have to fight: 

Oft pernicious women 

By the wayside sit. 

Who swords and valor deaden. 

28. This I thee counsel fifthly : 
Although thou see fair women 
On the benches sitting. 

Let not their kindred's silver* 
Over thy sleep have power. 
To kiss thee entice no woman. 

* Which thou mightest get by marriage. 


29. This I thee counsel sixthly : 
Although among men pass 
Offensive tipsy talk, 

Never, while drunken, qnarrel 

With men of war- 

Wine steals the wits of many. 

30. Brawls and drink 

To many men have been 

A heart-felt sorrow; 

To some their death, 

To some calamity : 

Many are the griefs of men ! 

31. This I thee counsel seventhly : 
If thou hast disputes 

With a daring man. 
Better it is for men 
To fight than to be burnt 
Within their dwelling. 

32. This I thee counsel eighthly : 
That thou guard thee against evil. 
And eschew deceit. 

Entice no maiden. 
Nor wife of man. 
Nor to wantonness incite. 

33. This I thee counsel ninthly: 
That thou corpses bury. 

Wherever on the earth thou findest them ; 
Whether from sickness they have died, 
Or from the sea, 
Or are from weapons dead. 

. 34. Let a mound be raised 
For those departed ; 
Let their hands and head be washed. 
Combed, and wiped dry, 
Ere in the coffin they are laid; 
And pray for their happy sleep. 


35. This I thee counsel tenthly : 
That thou never trust 

A foe's kinsman's promises, 

Whose brother thou hast slain. 

Or sire laid low : 

There is a wolf 

In a young son, 

Though he with gold be gladdened. 

36. Strifes and fierce enmities 
Think not to be lulled. 

No more than deadly injury. 
Wisdom and fame in arms 
A prince not easily acquires, 
Who shall of men be foremost. 

37. This I counsel thee eleventhly: 
That thou at evil look. 
What course it may take. 

A long life, it seems to me, 
The prince may [not] enjoy; 
Fierce disputes will arise. 

Sigurd said: A wiser mortal exists not, and I swear 
that I will possess thee, for thou art after my heart. 
She answered: Thee I will have before all others, 
though I have to choose among all men. And this 
they confirmed with oaths to each other. 

Here ends the lay of Sigdrifa. 

The reader may find some of these rules of Hdvamdl 
and Sigrdrifiimdl somewhat inconsistent with our ideas 
of a supreme deity; but are not many of these princi- 
ples laid down in the Odinic morality worthy of a 
Christian age and of a Christian people, and do they 
not all reveal a profound knowledge of human nature 
in all its various phases? 

These rules of life, says Professor Keyser, were vari- 
ously understood, and as variously carried out into 


practice. But on the whole we find them reflected in 
the popular character of the Norsemen, such as history 
teaches it to us during heathendom. Bravery, prudence, 
and a love of independence are its brightest features, 
although bravery often degenerated into warrior fierce- 
ness, prudence into dissimulation, and the love of inde- 
pendence into self-will. If on the one hand we find a 
noble self-command, devoted faithfulness in friendship 
and love, noble-hearted hospitality and generosity, a love 
of right and of legal order, we also see, on the other 
hand, unyielding stubbornness, a fierce spirit of revenge, 
a repulsive arrogance, a far-reaching self-interest, and an 
excessive dependence upon the formalities of the law. 
A cold and unmoved exterior often concealed a soul 
torn by the bitterest grief, or stirred up by the wildest 
passions. A passionate outburst of joy or of grief was 
considered undignified. Few words, but energetic action, 
was esteemed in conduct, and complaint was silenced in 
order that vengeance could strike the more surely and 
heavily. Under a tranquil, indifferent mien were con- 
cealed the boldest and most deep-laid plans, and the 
real intention first came to light in the decisive moment. 
On the whole, there was certainly an impress of rigidity, 
insensibility and self-goodness stamped upon the popular 
character, but this stamp was more upon the outside 
than in its innermost character, more the result of 
inordinate prudence than of an evil disposition; and 
through all its failings there shines forth a dignity of 
soul which ennobled power and held up glory in this 
life and in after ages as the highest object of human 

The part assigned to the Norsemen in the grand 
drama of European history was to free the human mind 

* Bellgion of the Northmen, chap. xvii. 


from the Csesarian thraldom of Kome, in which it had 
so long been chained ; to show what marvels self-govern- 
ment and free institutions can accomplish, and thus 
hand down to us, their descendants, a glorious heritage 
of imperishable principles, which we must study and in 
a great measure be guided by. 

We retain in the days of the week the remembrance 
of this religion, which was brought to England more 
than fourteen hundred years ago by the Goths, who 
came to give that country a new name and a new fate 
in the world. The Goths taught the people of Britain 
to divide the week into their Sun-day, Moon-day, Tys- 
day, Odin's-day, Thorns-day, and Frey's or Freyja's-day. 
The name of Saturday the English owe to the Roman 
god Saturnus; but the last day of the week was known 
among the early Norsemen, and is still known among 
them, as Laugar-dag, L'6r-dag, that is Wasliing-day. It 
is possible, as E. C. Otte quaintly remarks, that our 
Anglo-Saxon forefathers may have wished to change 
this name when, in later times, they had ceased to have 
only one washing-day out of the seven, like their 
northern ancestors. 

We are now prepared to present the Norse mythol- 
ogy, and we shall divide it into three divisions: The 
Creation and Preservation, The Life and Ex- 
ploits OF THE Gods, and Ragnarok and Regener- 
ation. These three divisions we dedicate respectively 
to XJrd, Verdande, and Skuld, the three norns. Was, 
Is, and Shall Be, which uphold the world's structure 
and preside over the destinies of gods and men. 


UrtSar orSi 
kvet5r engi maSr. 
Vafinn er VerSandi reyk. 
Li tits sjaum aptr, 
en ekki fram; 
skyggir Skuld fyrir sjon. 

Matthias JocHUMSoif. 




TJrSar orSi 
kvet5r engi maSr. 




^T^HE condition of things before the creation of the 
-^ world is expressed negatively. There was nothing 
of that which sprang into existence. This transition^, 
from empty space into being demands the attention of) 
the whole human race. Therefore the vala, or Avander- 
ing prophetess, begins her mysterious song, the grand 
and ancient Voluspa, the first lay in the Elder Edda, 
as follows: 

Give ear 

All ye divine races, 

Great and small, 

Sons of Heimdal! 

I am about to relate 

The wonderful works of Valfather, 

The oldest sayings of men, • 

The first I remember. 

It was Time's morning 
When Ymer lived : 
There was no sand, no sea, 
Ko cooling billows; 
Earth tliere was none, 
No lofty heaven, 
Only Ginungagap, 
But no grass. 

The beginning was this: Many ages, ere the earth 
was made, there existed two worlds. Far to the north 



was Niflheim (the nebulous world), and far to the south 
was Muspelheim (the fire world). Between them was 
Ginungagap (the yawning gap). In the middle of 
Niflheim lay the spring called Hvergelmer, and from it 
flowed twelve ice-cold streams, the rivers Elivagar, of 
which Gjol was situated nearest Hel-gate. Muspelheim 
was so bright and hot that it burned and blazed and 
could not be trodden by those who did not have their 
home and heritage there. In the midst of this intense 
light and burning heat sat Surt, guarding its borders 
with a flaming sword in his hand. 


The first beings came into existence in the following 
manner: When those rivers that are called Elivagar, 
and which flowed from the spring Hvergelmer, had 
flowed far from their spring-head the venom which 
flowed with them hardened, as does dross that runs 
from a furnace, and became ice. And when the ice 
stood still, and ran not, the vapor arising from the 
venom gathered over it and froze to rime, and in this 
manner were formed in the yawning gap many layers 
of congealed vapor piled one over the other. That part 
of Ginungagap that lay toward the north was thus 
filled with thick and heavy ice and rime, and every- 
where within were fogs and gusts; but the south side 
of Ginungagap was lightened by the sparks and flakes 
that flew out of Muspelheim. Thus while freezing 
cold and gathering gloom proceeded from Niflheim, 
that part of Ginungagap Avhicli looked toward Mus- 
pelheim was hot and bright; but Ginungagap was as 
light as windless air; and when the heated blast met 
the frozen vapor it melted into drops, and hy the miglit 

TMEK. 173 

of him who seiit the heat,^ these drops quickened into 
life and were shaped into the likeness of a man. His 
name was Ymer, but the frost-giants called him Aur- 
gelmer. Ymer was not a god; he was bad (evil, illr^, 
as were all his kind. When he slept, he fell into a 
sweat, and from the pit of his left arm waxed a man 
and a woman, and one of his feet begat with the other 
a son, from whom descend the frost-giants, and there- 
fore Ymer is called the old frost-giant (Rhimthurs). 
Thus the Elder Edda, in the lay of Vafthrudner: 

Countless ■winters 

Ere earth was formed, 

Was born Bergelmer; 


Was his sire, 

His grandsire Aurgelmer. 

From Elivagar 

Sprang venom drops. 

Which grew till they became a giant ; 

But sparks flew 

From the south-world : 

To the ice the fire gave way. 

Under the armpit grew, 
'Tis said, of Rhimthurs, 
A girl and boy together; 
Foot with foot begat. 
Of that wise giant, 
A six-headed son. 


On what did the giant Ymer live, is a pertinent 
question. Here is the answer: The next thing, when 
the rime had been resolved into drops, was that the 

* The supreme god. 


COW, which is called Audliumbla, was made of it. Four 
milk-rivers ran out of her teats, and thus she fed Ymer. 
On what did the cow feed? She licked rime-stones, 
which were salt; and the first day that she licked the 
stones there came at evening out of the stones a man's 
hair, the second day a man's head, and the third day 
all the man was there. His name was Bure. He was 
fair of face, great and mighty. He begat a son by name 
Bor. Bor took for his wife a woman .whose name was 
Bestla, a daughter of the giant Bolthorn, and they had 
three sons, Odin, Vile and Ve, the rulers of heaven and 
earth; and Odin, adds the Younger Edda, is the greatest 
and lordliest of all the gods. 

The frost-giants were, then, the first race or the 
first dynasty of gods. The Elder Edda makes this dyn- 
asty embrace three beings, for Aurgelmer in the passage 
quoted is the same as Ymer. 

Odin descended from the frost-giants, which is also 
proved by a passage in the Younger Edda, where Gang- 
lere asks where Odin kept himself ere heaven and earth 
were yet made. Then he was, an severed Haar, with the 
frost-giants (Rhimthursar). 


Bor's sons, Odin, Vile and Ve, slew the giant Ymer, 
but when he fell there ran so much blood out of his 
wounds, that with that they drowned all the race of 
the frost-giants, save one, who got away with his house- 
hold ; him the giants call Bergelmer. He went on board 
his boat, and with him went his wife, and from them 
came a new race of frost-giants. Thus the Elder Edda: 


Winters past counting. 
Ere earth was yet made. 
Was born Bergelmer : 
Full well I remember 
How this crafty giant 
Was stowed safe in his skiflf. 

Odin, Vile and Ve dragged the body of Ymer into 
the middle of Ginuugagap, and of it they formed the 
earth. From Ymer's blood they made the seas and 
waters; from his flesh the land; from his bones the 
mountains; from his hair the forests, and from his 
teeth and jaws, together with some bits of broken bones, 
they made the stones and pebbles. From the blood that 
ran from his wounds they made the vast ocean, in the 
midst of which they fixed the earth, the ocean encir- 
cling it as a ring ; and hardy, says the Younger Edda, will 
he be who attempts to cross those waters. Then they 
took his skull and formed thereof the vaulted heavens, 
which they placed over the earth, and set a dwarf at 
the corner of each of the four quarters. These dwarfs 
are called East, West, North, and South. The wander- 
ing sparks and red-hot flakes that had been cast out 
from Mnspelheim they placed in the heavens, both above 
and below Ginungagap, to give light unto the world. 
The earth was round without and encircled by the deep 
ocean, the outward shores of which were assigned as a 
dwelling for the race of giants. But within, round 
about the earth, the sons of Bor raised a bulwark 
against turbulent giants, employing for this structure 
Ymer's eye-brows. To this bulwark they gave the name 
Midgard.* They afterwards threw and scattered the 
brains of Ymer in the air, and made of them the mel- 
ancholy clouds. Thus the Elder Edda, in the lay of 
Vaf thrudner : 

* The Tower of Babel. 


From Ymer's flesh 

The earth was formed. 

And from his bones the hills. 

The heaven from the skull 

Of that ice-cold giant. 

And from hia blood the sea. 

And in Grimner's lay: 

Of Ymer's flesh 

Was earth created, 

Of his blood the sea. 

Of his bones the hills. 

Of his hair trees and plants, 

Of his skull the heavens. 

And of his brows 

The gentle powers 

Formed Midgard for the sons of men; 

But of his brain 

The heavy clouds are 

All created. 


The heavenly bodies were formed of the sparks from 
Muspelheim. The gods did not create them, but only 
placed them in the heavens to give light unto the world, 
and assigned them a prescribed locality and motion. By 
them days and nights and seasons were marked. Thus 
the Elder Edda, in Voluspa: 

The sun knew not 
His proper sphere ; 
The stars knew not 
Their proper place ; 
The moon knew not 
Where her position was. 

There was nowhere grass 
Until Bor's sons 


The expanse did raise, 
By whom the great 
Midgard was made. 
From the south the sun 
Shone on the walls ; 
Then did the earth 
Green herbs produce. 
The moon went ahead 
The sun followed, 
His right hand held 
The steeds of heaven. 

Mundilfare was the father of the sun and moon. It 
is stated in the Younger Edda that Mundilfare had two 
children, a son and a daughter, so lovely and graceful 
that he called the boy Maane* (moon) and the girl Sol* 
(sun), and the latter he gave in marriage to Glener (the 
shining one). 

But the gods, being incensed at Mundilfare's presump- 
tion, took his children and placed them in the heavens, 
and let Sol drive the horses that draw the car of the 
sun. These horses are called Aarvak (the ever-wakeful) 
and Alsvid (the rapid one) ; they are gentle and beautiful, 
and under their withers the gods placed two skins filled 
with air to cool and refresh them, or, according to 
another ancient tradition, an iron refrigerant substance 
called isarnkul. A shield, by name Svalin (cool), stands 
before the Sun, the shining god. The mountains and 
the ocean would burn up if this shield should fall away. 
Maane was set to guide the moon in her course, and 
regulate her increasing and waning aspect. 

A giant, by name Norve, who dwelt in Jotunheim, 
had a daughter called Night (nott), who, like all her 
race, was of a dark and swarthy complexion. She was 

* In the Norse language, as also in the Anglo-Saxon, the sun is of the 
feminine and the moon of the masculine gender. 


first wedded to a man called Naglfare, and had by him 
a son named And, and afterward to another man called 
Annar, by whom she had a daughter called Earth (Jorcl). 
She finally espoused Delling (day-break), of asa-race, 
and their son was Day (dagr), a child light and fair like 
his father. Allfather gave Night and Day two horses 
and two cars, and set them tip in the heavens that they 
might drive successively one after the other, each in 
twenty-four hours' time, round the world. Night rides 
first with her steed Hrimfaxe (rime-fax),* that every 
morn, as he ends his course, bedews the earth with the 
foam from his bit. The steed driven by Day is called 
Skinfaxe (shining-fax), and all the sky and earth glistens 
from his mane. Thus the Elder Edda, in the lay of 
Vafthrudner : 

Mundilfare liiglit lie 

Who tlie moon's fatlier is, 

And also the sun's : 

Round heaven journey 

Each day they must, 

To count years for men. 

In the lay of Grimner: 

Aarvak and Alsvid, 
Theirs it is up hence 
• Tired the sun to draw ■ 

Under their shoulder 
These gentle powers, the gods, 
Have concealed an iron-coolness. 

Svalin the shield is called 

Which stands before the sun. 

The refulgent deity ; 

Rocks and ocean must, I ween. 

Be burnt, 

Fell it from its place. 

* Fax — hair. 

THE SUN. 179 

In the lay of Vafthrudner : 

Delling called is he 
Who the Day's father is, 
But Night was of Norve born; 
The new and waning moons 
The beneficent powers created 
To count years for men. 

Skinfaxe he is named 

That the bright day draws 

Forth over human kind ; 

Of coursers he is best accounted 

Among faring men ; 

Ever sheds light that horse's mane. 

Hrimfaxe he is called 

That each night draws forth 

Over the beneficent powers ; 

He from his bit lets fall 

Drops every morn 

Whence in the dells comes dew. 

The sun speeds at such a rate as if she feared that 
some one was pursuing her for her destruction. And 
well she may ; for he that seeks her is not far behind, 
and she has no other way to escape than to run before 
him. But who is he that causes her this anxiety? 
There are two wolves; the one, whose name is Skol,, 
pursues the sun, and it is he that she fears, for he shall 
one day overtake and devour her. The other, whose 
name is Hate Hrodvitneson, runs before her and as 
eagerly pursues the moon, that will one day be caught 
by him. Whence come these wolves ? Answer : A 
giantess dwells in a wood called Jarnved (ironwood). 
It is situated east of Midgard, and is the abode of a 
race of witches. This old hag is the mother of many 
gigantic sons, who are all of them shaped like wolves, 
two of whom are Skol and Hate. There is one of that 


race who is the most formidable of all. His name is 
Maanagarm (moon-swallower) : he is filled with the life- 
blood of men who draw near their end, and he will 
swallow up the moon, and stain the heavens and the 
earth with blood. As it is said in the Voluspa, of the 
Elder Edda: 

Eastward in the Ironwood 
The old one sitteth, 
And there bringeth forth 
Fenrer's fell kindred. 
Of these, one, the mightiest. 
The moon's devourer, 
In form most fiend-like, 
And filled with the life-blood 
Of the dead and the dying. 
Reddens with ruddy gore 
The seats of the high gods. 
Then shall the sunshine 
Of summer be darkened, 
And fickle the weather. 
Conceive ye this or not? 

The gods set Evening and Midnight, Morning and 
Noon, Forenoon and Afternoon, to count out the year. 
There were only two seasons, summer and winter ; hence 
spring and fall must be included in these two. The 
father of summer is called Svasud (the mild), who is 
such a gentle and delicate being, that what is mild is 
from him called sweet (svaslekt). The father of winter 
has two names, Vindlone and Vindsval (the wind-cool) ; 
he is the son of Vasud (sleet-bringing), and, like all his 
race, has an icy breath and is of grim and gloomy 

Whence come the winds, that are so strong that 
they move the ocean and fan fire to flame, and still are 
so airy that no mortal eye can discern them ? Answer : 
In the northern extremity of the heavens sits a giant 


called HrjBsvelger (corpse-swallower), clad with eagles' 
plumes. When he spreads out his wings for flight, the 
winds arise from under them. 

Which is the path leading from earth to heaven ? 
The gods made a bridge from earth to heaven and called 
it Bifrost (the vibrating way). We have all seen it and 
call it the rainbow. It is of three hues and constructed 
with more art than any other work. But though strong 
it be, it will be broken to pieces when the sons of Mus- 
pel, after having traversed great rivers, shall ride over 
it. There is nothing in nature that can hope to make 
resistance when the sons of Muspel sally forth to the 
great combat. Now listen to the Elder Edda on some 
of these subjects. 

In the lay of Grimner: 

Skol the wolf is named 

That the fair-faced goddess 

To the ocean chases ; 

Another Hate is called, 

He is Hrodvitner's son : 

He the bright maid of heaven shall precede. 

In the Voluspa: 

Then went the powers all 

To their judgment seats. 

The all-holy gods. 

And thereon held council: 

To night and to the waning moon 

Gav'e names ; 

Morn they named 

And mid-day. 

Afternoon and eve. 

Whereby to reckon years. 

In the lay of Vafthrudner: 

Vindsval is his name 
Who winter's father is. 

182 lilL AND HJUKE. 

And Svasud summer's fatlier is: 
Yearly they both 
Shall ever journey. 
Until the powers perish. 

Hraesvelger is his name 

Who at the end of heaven sits, 

A giant in an eagle's plumage : 

From his wings comes. 

It is said, the wind 

That over all men passes. 

In reference to Maane, it should be added, that tlie 
Younger Edda tells us, that he once took children from 
earth. Their names were Bil and Hjuke. They went 
from the spring called Byrger, and bore on their shoul- 
ders the bucket called Sanger with the pole called Simul. 
Their father's name was Vidfin. These children follow 
Maane, as may be seen, from the earth. 


In the beginning Allfather (Odin) appointed rulers 
and bade them judge with him the fate of men and 
regulate the government of the celestial city. They met 
for this purpose in a place called Idavold (the plains of 
Ida), which is the center of the divine abode (Asgard, 
the abode of the asas). Their first work was to erect 
a court or hall, where there are twelve seats for them- 
selves, besides the throne which is occupied by All- 
father. This hall is the largest and most magnificent 
in the universe, being resplendent on all sides both 
within and without with the finest gold. Its name is 
Gladsheim (home of gladness). They also erected an- 
other hall for the sanctuary of the goddesses. It is a 


fair strnctare and is called Vingolf (friends'-floor). 
Thereupon they built a smithy and furnished it with 
hammers, tongs and anvils, and with these made all 
other requisite instruments with which they worked in 
metals, stone and wood, and composed so large a quan- 
tity of the metal called gold, that they made all their 
house-furniture of it. Hence that age was called the 
Golden Age. This was the age that lasted until the 
arrival of the women out of Jotunheim, who corrupted it. 

Then the gods seating themselves upon their thrones 
distributed justice, and remembered how the dwarfs had 
l3een bred in the mould of the earth, just as worms in 
a dead body. The dwarfs were quickened as maggots 
in the flesh of the old giant Ymer, but by the com- 
mand of the gods they received the form and under- 
standing of men ; their abode was, however, in the 
earth and rocks. Four dwarfs, Austre (east), Vestre 
(west), Nordre (north), and Sudre (south), were ap- 
pointed by the gods to bear up the sky. Of the race 
of dwarfs Modsogner and Durin are the principal ones. 

There were not yet any human beings upon the earth, 
when one day, as the sons of Bor (Odin, Keener and 
Loder) were walking along the sea-beach, they found two 
trees and created from them the first human pair, man 
a,nd woman. Odin gave them life and spirit, endowed 
them with reason and the power of motion, and Loder 
^ave them blood, hearing, vision and a fair complexion. 
The man they called Ask, and the woman Embla. The 
newly created pair received from the gods Midgard as 
their abode; and from Ask and Embla is descended 
the whole human family. Thus the Elder Edda, in 
Voluspa •. 


The asas met 
On Ida's plains ; 
They altars raised 
And temples built ; 
Furnaces they established. 
Precious things forged. 
Their strength they tried 
In many ways 
When making tongs 
And forming tools. 

On the green they played 
In joyful mood, 
Nor knew at all 
The want of gold, 
Until there came 
Three giant maids 
Exceeding strong 
From Jotunheim. 

Then all the powers 
Went to the throne. 
The holy gods, 
And held consult 
Who should of dwarfs 
The race then fashion 
From the livid bones 
And blood of the giant. 

Modsogner, chief 
Of the dwarfish race, 
And Durin, too, 
Were then created ; 
And like to men 
Dwarfs in the earth 
Were formed in numbers 
As Durin ordered. 

And then there came 
Out of the ranks, 
Powerful and fair. 
Three asas home. 


And found on sliore. 
In helpless plight, 
Ask and Embla * 
Without their fate. 

They had not yet 
Spirit or mind. 
Blood or beauty 
Or lovely hue. 
Odin gave spirit, 
Hcsner gave mind, 
Loder gave blood 
And lovely hue. 


In the Old Norse language a god is called ass (pi. 
cesir) and a goddess dsyitja. The gods dwell in Asgard. 
In its midst are the plains of Ida {Idav'OUr, the assem- 
bling-place of the gods), and Odin's high-seat Hlid- 
skjalf, from where he looks out upon all the worlds. 
But above the heaven of the asas are higher heavens, 
and in the highest stands the imperishable gold-roofed 
hall Gimle, which is brighter than the sun. 

The gods, to whom divine honors must be rendered, 
are twelve in number, and their names are Odin, Thor, 
Balder, Tyr, Brage, Heimdal, Hoder, Vidar, Vale, Uller, 
Forsete, Loke. In this list Njord and Frey are not 
mentioned, for they originally belonged to the vans or 
sea-gods, and were received among the asas by virtue 
of a treaty in which Njord was given as a hostage, and 
Frey is his son. "• 

Of goddesses we find the number twenty-six, and 
Vingolf is their hall. Odin's hall is the great Valhal. 
Spears support its ceiling ; it is roofed with shields, and 
coats of mail adorn its benches. Thither and to Vin- 

♦ Ash and Elm. 



golf Odin iuvites all men wounded by arms or ~ fallen 
in battle. Therefore lie is called Valfatlier (father of 
the slain), and his invited guests are called einherjes. 
They are waited upon by valkyries. 

The dwelling of Thor is Thrudvang or Thrudheim. 
His hall, the immense Bilskirner. Uller, Thor's son, 
lives in Ydaler. Balder lives in Breidablik," where noth- 
ing impure is found. Njord, one of the vans, dwells 
in Noatun by the sea. Heimdal inhabits Himinbjorg, 
which stands where Bifrost's bridge approaches heaven, 
Forsete has Glitner for his dwelling, whose roof of silver 
rests on golden columns. The chief goddess Frigg, wife 
of Odin, has her dwelling-place in Fensal, and Freyja, 
the goddess of love, dwells in Folkvang ; her hall is Sess- 
rymner. Saga dwells in the great Sokvabek under the 
cool waves ; there she drinks with Odin every day from 
golden vessels. 

We have so far mentioned the following classes of 
deities: giants, gods, goddesses, vans (sea-deities), and 
dwarfs. In addition to these the Younger Edda men- 
tions two kinds of elves: elves of light and elves of 
darkness. The elves of light dwell in Alfheim (home 
of the elves), but the elves of darkness live under the 
earth, and diflFer from the others still more in their ac- 
tions than in their appearance. The elves of light are 
fairer than the sun, but the elves of darkness blacker 
than pitch. 

Then we have a lot of inferior spirits, such as trolls, 
hulder, witches {vcettr), nisses, necks, etc., all of which 
figure extensively in the Norse folk-lore, but an exten- 
sive description of them will not be attempted in this 



Nine worlds are mentioued: Muspelheim, Asaheim, 
Ljosalfalieim, Vauaheim, Mannaheim, Jotunheim, Svar- 
talfalieim, Helheim, Niflheim. The highest is Miispel- 
herxii (the iire-world), the realm of Surt, and in its 
highest regions it appears that Gimle (heaven) was 
thought to be situated. The lowest is Niflheim (the 
mist-world), the realm of cold and darkness, and in its 
midst is the fountain Hvergelmer, where the dragon 
Nidhug dwells. Between the two is Mannaheim (the 
world of man) or Midgard, the round disk of the 
earth, surrounded by the great ocean. The gods gave 
Ask and Embla, the first human pair, and their de- 
scendants, this world to dwell in. Far above Manna- 
heim is Asaheim (the world of the gods), forming a 
vault above the earth. In the midst of this world is 
Idavold, the assembling-place of the gods, and here is 
also Odin's lofty throne Hlidskjalf. Beyond the ocean 
is Jotunheim (the world of the giants). This world is 
separated from Asaheim by the river Ifing, which never 
freezes over. Nearest above the earth is Ljosalfaheim 
(the world of the light elves), and between it and Asa- 
heim is Vanaheim (the world of the vans). Proceeding 
downward, we come first to Svartalfaheim (world of 
the dark elves), below Mannaheim, and between Svart- 
alfaheim and Niflheim we have Helheim (the world of 
the dead, hell). Thither the way from the upper worlds 
led down by the north through Jotunheim over the 
stream Gjol, the bridge over which, called Gjallar-bridge, 
was roofed over with shining gold. 




TGDRASIL is one of the noblest conceptions that 
ever entered into any scheme of cosmogony or 
human existence. It is in fact the great tree of life, 
Avonderfully elaborated and extended through the Avhole 
system of the universe. It furnishes bodies for mankind 
from its branches; it strikes its roots through all worlds, 
and spreads its life-giving arms through the heavens. 
All life is cherished by it, even that of serpents, which 
devour its roots and seek to destroy it. It has three 
grand roots far apart. One of them extends to the 
asas, another to the giants in that very place where 
was formerly Ginungagap, and the third stands over 
Niflheim, and under this root, which is constantly 
gnawed by the serpent Nidhug and all his reptile 
brood, is the fountain Ilvergelmer. Under the root 
that stretches out toward the giants is Mimer's fount- 
ain, in which wisdom and wit lie hid. The owner of 
this fountain is called Mimer. He is full of wisdom, 
because he drinks the waters of the fountain every 
morning with the Gjallarhorn. Once Odin came and 
begged a draught of this water, which he received, but 
he had to leave one of his eyes in pawn for it. Thus 
it is recorded in the Elder Edda: 



Full well I know. 
Great Odin, where 
Thine eye thou lost; 
In Mimer's well, 
The fountain pure. 
Mead Miuier drinks 
Each morning new, 
With Odin's pledge. 
Conceive ye this ? 

Under the root of Ygdrasil, which extends to the 
asas in heaven, is the holy Urdar-fountain. Here the 
gods sit in judgment. Every day they ride up hither 
on horseback over Bifrost (the rainbow), which is called 
the bridge of the gods {dsbril). Odin rides his gray 
eight-footed Sleipner, Heimdal on Goldtop. The other 
horses are G-lad (bright), Gyller (gilder), Gler (the 
shining one), Skeidbrimer (fleet-foot), Silfrintop (silver 
top), Siner (sinews), Gisl (the sunbeam), Falhofner (pale 
hoof), Letfet (light-foot). It has been stated before 
that the gods worthy of divine honors were twelve, and 
here we have ten horses named. Balder's and Thor's 
are wanting. Balder's horse was burnt with his mas- 
ter's body, and as for Thor, he has to go on foot. He 
cannot pass the Asabridge, for the thunder, which he is, 
would destroy it; therefore he daily wades through the 
rivers Kormt, Ormt, and two others called Kerlaug, to 
get to the council of the gods. 

The giants cannot pass the Asabridge, for the red in 
it is burning fire and the waters' of heaven roar around 
it. If it were easy for every one to walk over it, the 
giants would go up to heaven by that bridge, and 
perhaps succeed in bringing ruin upon the gods. 

At the Urdar-fountain dwell also three maidens, 
named Urd, Verdande and Skuld (Present, Past and 
Future). These maidens fix the lifetime of all men, 


and are called norns. They guard the fountain, which 
takes its name from the first and highest of the three, 
Urd (Urdar-fount). Besides these there are other norns, 
some of which are of heavenly origin, but others be- 
long to the races of elves and dwarfs. The norns 
who are of good origin are good themselves, and dis- 
pense good destinies. Those men to whom mis- 
fortunes happen ought to ascribe them to the evil 
norns. Thus it is that some men are fortunate and 
wealthy, while others acquire neither riches nor honors ; 
some live to a good old age, while others are cut off in 
their prime. 

Furthermore it must be stated of the ash Ygdrasil, 
that on its topmost bough sits an eagle who knows 
many things, and between the eagle's eyes sits a hawk 
by name Vedfolner. A squirrel, whose name is Katatosk, 
runs up and down the tree, and seeks to cause strife 
between the eagle and the serpent Nidhug. Four stags 
leap about beneath its branches and feed on its buds. 
They are called Daain, Dvalin, Duneyr, and Durathror. 
But there are so many snakes with Nidhug in the fount- 
ain Hvergelmer, that no tongue can count them. Thus 
the Elder Edda: 

The tree Ygdrasil 
Bears a sorer burden 
Than men imagine. 
Above the stags bite it, 
On its sides age rots it, 
Nidhug gnaws below. 

More serpents lie 
Under Ygdrasil's ash 
Than simpletons think of; 
Goin and Moin, 
The sons of Grafvitner, 


Graabak and GrafvoUud, 
Ofner and Svafner, 
Must for aye, methiuks, 
Gnaw the roots of tliat tree. 

The norns, who dwell by the Urdar-fount, every day 
draw water from this spring, and with it, and the clay 
that lies around the fount, they sprinkle the ash, in 
order that the boughs may continue green, and not rot 
and wither away. This water is so holy that everything 
placed in the spring becomes as white as the film within 
an egg-shell. Thus the Elder Edda: 

An ash know I standing 
Named Ygdrasil, 
A stately tree sprinkled 
With water, the purest ; 
Thence come the dewdrops 
That fall in the dales ; 
Ever blooming it stands 
O'er the Urdar-fountain. 

The dew that falls from the tree on the earth men 
call honey-dew, and it is the food of the bees. Finally, 
two swans swim in the Urdar-fountain, and they are the 
parents of the race of swans. Thus all the tribes of 
nature partake of the universal tree. 



IN the Norse as in all mythologies, the beginning 
of creation is a cosmogony presenting many ques- 
tions difficult of solution. The natural desire of knowl- 
edge asks for the origin of all things ; and as the 
beginning always remains inexplicable, the mind tries 
to satisfy itself by penetrating as far into the primeval 
forms of matter and means of sustaining life as possi- 
ble. We follow the development of the tree back to the 
seed and then to the embryo of the seed, but still we 
are unable to explain how a miniature oak can exist in 
scarcely more than a mere point in the acorn. We even 
inspect the first development of the plant with the 
microscope, but we acquire knowledge not of the force, 
but only of its manifestations or phenomena. Such was 
also the experience of our ancestors, when they inquired 
into the origin of this world. They had the same desire 
to know, but were not so well provided with means of 
finding out, as we are with our microscopic, telescopic, 
and spectrum analysis instruments. 

The first effort of the speculative man is to solve the 
mystery of existence. The first question is: How has 
this world begun to be? What was in the beginning, 
or what was there before there yet was anything ? In 
the Greek mythology many forms seem to arise out of 
night, which seems to shroud them all. Thus in the 


POND us INEKS. ' 103 

Norse mythology the negative is the first, a conditio 
sine qua non, space we might say, which we must con- 
ceive of as existing, before anything can be conceived as 
existing in it. Our ancestors imagined in the beginning 
only a yawning gap in which there was absolutely noth- 
ing. Wonderfully enough they said that the one side 
of this immense gulf extended to the north and the 
other to the south, as though there could be such things 
as north and south before the creation of the world. 
Tlie north side was cold, the south warm ; and thus we 
find by closer inspection that this nothing still was 
something, that contained in itself opposite forces, cold 
and heat, force of contraction and force of expansion, 
but these forces were in a state of absolute inertia. 
Thus also the Greek chaos: 

rudis indigestaque moles. 

Nee quidquam nisi pondus iuers, congestaque eodem. 
Non bene junctarum discordia semina rerum. 

We cannot conceive how a body containing two 
forces can be a pondus iners, for every force is infinite 
and cannot rest unless it is prisoned by its opposite 
force, and this is then strife. The Norse view is, philo- 
sophically speaking, more correct. Here the opposite 
r forces are separated by a gulf, and as they cannot pene- 
trate the empty space, they remain inert. 

It has before been stated that the Norsemen believed 
in a great and almighty god, who was greater than Odin. 
This god appears in the creation of the world, where 
he sends the heated blasts from Muspelheim and imparts 
life to the melted drops of rime. He will appear again 
as the just and mighty one, who is to reign witli Bal- 
der in the regenerated earth. He is the true Allfather. 

When the thought was directed to inquire into the 


origin of the world, one question would naturally sug- 
gest another, thus: 

Question : What produced the world ? Answer : The 
giant Ymer. 

Question : But on what did the giant Ymer live ? 
Answer : On the milk of a cow. 

Question : What did the cow live on ? Answer : On 

Question : Where did the salt come fi'om ? Answer : 
From the rime. 

Question : Whence came the rime ? Answer : From 
ice-cold streams. 

Question: Whence came the cold? Answer: From 

Question : But what gave life to the rime ? Answer : 
The heat. 

Question : Whence came the heat ? Answer : From 
him who sent it. 

Here inquiry could go no further. This process 
brought the inquirer to the god whom he dared not 
name, the author and ruler of all things. Tliis unknown 
god thus appears only before the creation and after 
the fall of the world. He is not a god of time but of 
eternity. He is from everlasting to everlasting. 

The Elder Edda calls Ymer, Aurgelmer, father of 
Thrudgelmer and grandfather of Bergelmer (Berggel- 
mer.) The first syllables of these words express the 
gradual hardening of matter from aur (loose clay) to 
thrud (packed, compressed, strong clay), and finally to 
herg (rock). Ymer, that is, the first chaotic world- 
mass, is produced by the union of frost and fire. The 
dead cold matter is quickened by the heat into a huge 
shapeless giant, which has to be slain ; that is, the crude 
matter had to be broken to pieces before it could be 


remodeled into the various forms which nature since has 
assumed. This Hving mass, Ymer, produces many beings 
like himself, frost-cold, stone-Hke, shapeless frost-giants 
and mountain giants (icebergs and mountains). In these 
forms evil is still predominant. All are allied to the 
world of cold and darkness. It is only the lower, the 
physical, world-life which moves in them. 

But a better being, although of animal nature, — the 
cow Audhumbla — came into existence from the frozen 
vapor, as the nurse of Ymer. This power nourishes 
the chaotic world, and at the same time calls forth by 
its refining agency — by licking the rime-clumps — a 
higher spiritual life, which unfolds itself through several 
links — through Bure, the bearing (father), and Bor, 
the born (son) — until it has gained power suiScient to 
overcome chaotic matter — to kill Ymer and his off- 
spring. This conquering power is divinity itself, which 
now in the form of a trinity goes forth as a creative 
power — as spirit, will and holiness, in the brothers Odin, 
Vile and' Ve. The spirit quickens, the will arranges, 
and holiness banishes the impure and evil. It is how- 
ever only in the creation of the world that these three 
brothers are represented as cooperating. Vile and Ve 
are not mentioned again in the whole mythology. They 
are blended together m the all-embracing, all-pervadmg 
world-spirit Odin, who is the essence of the world, the 
almighty god. 

This idea of a trinity appears twice more in the 
Norse mythology. In the gylfaginning of the Younger 
Edda, Ganglere sees three thrones, raised one above the 
other, and a man sitting on each of them. Upon his 
asking what the names of these lords might be, his guide 
answered: He who sitteth on the lowest throne is a 
king, and his name is Haar (the high or lofty one) ; 


the second is Jafnliaar (equally high) ; but he who 
sitteth on the highest throne is called Thride (the 
third). Then in the creation of man the divinity ap- 
pears in the form of a trinity. The three gods, Odin, 
Hoener, and Loder, create the first human pair, each 
one imparting to them a gift corresponding to his 
own nature. Odin {d)id, spirit) gives them spirit, the 
spiritual life ; he is himself the spirit of the world, 
of which man's is a reflection. Hoener (light) illumi- 
nates the soul with understanding {d(h'). Loder (fire, 
Germ, lodern, to flame) gives the warm blood and 
the blushing color, together with the burning keenness 
of the senses. It is evident that Odin's brothers on 
these occasions are mere emanations of his being , they 
proceed from him, and only represent diflerent phases 
of the same divine power. Loder is probably the 
same person as afterwards steps forward as an inde- 
pendent divinity by name Loke. When he was united 
with Odin in the trinity he sends a quiet, gentle and 
invisible flame of light through the veins of Ask and 
Embla, that is of mankind. Afterwards, assuming the 
name of Loke, he becomes the consuming fire of the 
earth. Loder produces and develops life; Loke cor- 
rupts and destroys life. 

By the creation the elements are separated. Ymer's 
body is parceled out ; organic life begins. But the 
chaotic powers, though conquered, are not destroyed; 
a giant escapes in his ark with his family, and from 
them comes a new race of giants. Disturbing and 
deadly influences are perceptible everywhere in nature, 
and these influences are represented by the hostile 
dispositions of the giants toward the asas and of 
their struggles to destroy the work of the latter. The 
giants have been forced to fly to Jotunheim, to Ut- 


gard, to the outermost deserts beyond the sea ; but 
still they manage to get within Midgard, the abode of 
man, and here they dwell in the rugged mountains, 
in the ice-clad jokuls and in the barren deserts, in 
short, everywhere where any barrenness prevails. Their 
agency is perceptible in the devastating storms caused 
by the wind-strokes of Hr^esvelger, the giant eagle in 
the North ; it is felt in winter's cold, snow and ice, 
and in all the powers of nature which are unfriendly 
to fruitfulness and life. 

The golden age of the gods, when 

On the green they played 

In joyful mood. 

Nor knew at all 

The want of gold, 

Until there came 

Three giant maids 

From Jotunheim, 

represents the golden age of the child and the childhood 
of the human race. The life of the gods in its dif- 
ferent stages of development resembles the life of men. 
Childhood is innocent and happy, manhood brings 
with it cares and troubles. The gods were happy 
and played on the green so long as their develop- 
ment had not yet taken any decided outv/ard direc- 
tion ; but this freedom from care ended when they 
had to make dwarfs and men, and through them got 
a whole world full of troubles and anxieties to provide 
for and protect, — just as the golden age ends for the 
child when it enters upon the activities of life, and 
for the race, when it enters into the many complications 
and cares of organized society. The gods played with 
pieces of gold. The pure gold symbolizes innocence. 
These pieces of gold {gullnar tqflur) were lost, but 


were found again in the green grass of the regen- 
erated earth. From the above it must be clear that 
the three giant maids, who came from Jotunheim 
and put an end to the golden age, must be the norns, 
the all-pervading necessity that develops the child into 
manhood. It does not follow, therefore, that these 
maids were giantesses, for the gods themselves descended 
from the giants. Nor did the norns introduce evil into 
the world, but they marked out for the gods a career 
which could not be changed; and immediately after 
the appearance of the maids from Jotunheim the gods 
must create man, whose fate those same norns would 
afterwards determine. 

The gods did not create the dwarfs, but only deter- 
mined that they were to have the form and under- 
standing of men. 

Man was made of trees — of the ash and the elm. 
There is something graceful in this idea. The Norse 
conception certainly is of a higher order than those 
which produce man from earth or stones. It is more 
natural and more noble to regard man as having been 
made of trees, which as they grow from the earth 
heavenward show an unconscious attraction to that 
which is divine, than, as the Greeks do, to make men 
stand forth out of cold clay and hard stones. We con- 
fess that the Norse myth looks Greek and the Greek 
looks Norse; yet there may be a good reason for it. 
The plastic Greek regarded man as a statue, which 
generally was formed of clay or stone, but to which a 
divine spark of art gave life. The Norsemen knew not 
the plastic arts, and therefore had to go to nature, and 
not to art, for their symbols. The manner in which 
Odin breathes spirit and life into the trees reminds us 
very forcibly of the Mosaic narrative. It is interesting 


to study the various mythological theories in regard to 
the origin of man. The inhabitants of Thibet have a 
theory that undoubtedly is of interest to the followers 
of Darwin. In Thibet the three gods held counsel as 
to how Thibet might be peopled. The first one showed 
in a speech that the propagation of the human race 
could not be secured unless one of them changed him- 
self into an ape. The last one of the three gods did 
this, and the goddess Kadroma was persuaded to change 
herself into a female ape. The plan succeeded, and they 
have left a numerous offspring.* 

Various classes of beings are mentioned in the my- 
thology. Life is a conflict between these beings, for the 
spiritual everywhere seeks to penetrate and govern the 
physical; but it also everywhere meets resistance. The 
asas rule over heaven and earth, and unite themselves 
with the vans, the water divinities. The giants war 
with the asas and vans. The elves most properly be- 
long to the asas, while the dwarfs are more closely 
allied to the giants, but they serve the asas. The most 
decided struggle, then, is between the asas and giants. 

The spiritual and physical character of the giants is 
clearly brought out in the myths. They constitute a 
race by themselves, divided into different groups, but 
have a common king or ruler. Their bodies are of 
superhuman size, having several hands and heads. 
Sta3rkodder had six arms; Hymer had many heads, and 
they were hard as stones; Hruugner's forehead was 
harder than any kettle. The giantesses are either hor- 
ribly ugly or charmingly beautiful. As the offspring 
of darkness, the giants prefer to be out at night. The 
sunlight, and especially lightning, terrifies them. On 
land and sea they inhabit large caves, rocks and mount- 

* Wagner, p. 192. 


ains. Their very nature is closely allied to stones and 
mountains. When Brynhild drove in a chariot on the 
way to Hel, and passed through a place in which a 
giantess dwelt, the giantess said: 

Thou sbalt not 
Pass througli 
My stoue-supported 

The weapons of the giants, as the following myths will 
show, were stones and rocks; they had clubs and shields 
of stone. Hruugner's weapons were flint-stones. The 
giants also have domesticated animals. The giant 
Thrym sat on a mound plaiting gold bands for his 
greyhounds and smoothing the manes of his horses. 
He had gold-horned cows and all-black oxen. They 
possess abundance of wealth and treasures. 

The giant is old, strong and powerful, very know- 
ing and wise, but also severe, proud and boasting. The 
giantess is violent, passionate and impertinent. In their 
lazy rest the giants are good-natured; they may be as 
happy as children ; but they must not be teased. 

The giants representing the wild, disturbing, chaotic 
forces in nature, the beneficent gods can subdue or con- 
trol them in two ways : The one is to kill them and use 
their remains for promoting the fruitfulness of the earth, 
the other is to unite with them, in other words, to marry 
them. This forms the subject of a large number of 
myths, which, when we have formed a correct general 
conception of the giants, need no further explanation. 
Odin kills Sokmimer, the destructive maelstrom of the 
ocean. Thor crushes Hrungner, the barren mountain. 
Odin marries Gunlad, Njord marries Skade, Frey marries 
Gerd, etc. 

When the Odinic mythology was superseded by the 


Christian religion it left a numerous offspring of elves, 
trolls (dwarfs), nisses, necks, mermaids, princes, prin- 
cesses, etc, all of which still live in the memory and 
traditions of Scandinavia. They may be said to belong 
to the fairy mythology of these countries. We give a 
brief sketch of these objects of popular belief, chiefly 
from the excellent work of Thomas Keightley. A general 
knowledge of them is necessary in order to appreciate 
the rich folk-lore literature of Norselaud. 

The elves still retain their distinction into ivliite and / 
black. The white or good elves dAvell in the air, dance 
on the grass, or sit in the leaves of trees ; the black or 
evil elves are regarded as an underground people, who 
frequently inflict sickness or injury on mankind, for 
which there is a particular kind of doctors and doc- 
tresses in most parts of Scandinavia. The elves are 
believed to have their kings, and to celebrate their 
weddings and banquets, just the same as the dwellers 
above ground. There is an interesting intermediate class 
of them called in popular tradition hill-people (Jiauga- 
folk), who are believed to dwell in caves and small 
hills. When they show themselves they have a hand- 
some human form. The common people seem to con- 
nect with them a deep feeling of melancholy, as if 
bewailing a half-quenched hope of salvation. Their 
sweet singing may occasionally be heard on summer 
nights out of their hills, when one stands still and 
listens, or, as it is expressed in the ballads, lays his ear 
to the elf-hill; but no one must be so cruel as by the 
slightest word to destroy their hopes of salvation, for 
then the spritely music will be turned into weeping 
and. lamentation. The Norsemen usually call the elves 
Iwlder or linldrefolh, and their music Imldredaat. It 
is in tlie minor key, and of a dull and mournfal sound. 

202 TROLLS. 

Norse fiddlers sometimes play it, being thought to have . 
learned it by listening to the underground people among 
the hills and rocks. There is also a tune called the elf- 
kings' tune, which several of the good fiddlers know 
right well, but never venture to play, for as soon as it 
begins both old and young, and even inanimate objects, 
are compelled to dance, and the player cannot stop unless 
he can play the air backwards, or that some one comes 
behind him and cuts the strings of his fiddle. Ole Bull 
and Thorgeir Andunson, the people think, learned to 
play the fiddle from the hill-people. The little under- 
ground elves, who are thought to dwell under the houses 
of mankind, are described as sportive and mischievous, 
aud as imitating all the actions of men. They are said 
to love cleanliness about the house and place, and to 
reward such servants as are neac aud cleanly. 
^ The dwarfs have become trolls. They are not gener- 
ally regarded as malignant. They are thought to live 
inside of hills, mounds and mountains; sometimes in 
single families, sometimes in societies. They figure 
extensively in the folk-lore. They are thought to be 
extremely rich, for when on great occasions of festivity 
they have their hills raised up on red pillars, people 
that have chanced to be passing by have seen them 
shoving large chests full of money to and fro, and 
opening and clapping down the lids of them. Their 
dwellings are very magnificent inside, being decorated 
with gold and crystal. They are obliging and neighborly, 
freely lending and borrowing and otherwise keeping up 
a friendly intercourse with mankind. But they have a 
sad propensity to stealing, not only provisions, but also 
women and children. Trolls have a great dislike to 
noise, probably from the recollection of the time when 
Thor used to be flinging his hammer after them, while 


this would indicate that the giants are their true ances- 
tors. The hanging of bells in the churches has for this 
reason driven the most of them out of the country. 

The nisse is the German kobold and the Scotch '' 
brownie. He seems to be of the dwarf family, as he 
resembles them in appearance, and like them has plenty 
of money and a dislike to noise and tumult. He is of 
the size of a year-old child, but has the face of an old 
man. His usual dress is gray, with a pointed red cap, 
but on Michaelmas day he wears a round hat like those 
of the peasants. No farm-house goes on well unless 
there is a nisse in it, and well it is for the maids and 
the men when they are in favor with him. They may 
go to their beds and give themselves no trouble about 
their work, and yet in the morning the maids will find 
the kitchen swept and water brought in, and the men 
will find the horses in the stable well cleaned and cur- 
ried, and perhaps a supply of corn cribbed for them 
from the neighbor's barns. But he punishes them for 
any irregularity that takes place. 

The neck is the river-spirit. Sometimes he is repre- 
sented as sitting during the summer nights on the 
surface of the water, like a pretty little boy with golden 
hair hanging in ringlets, and a red cap on his head; 
sometimes as above the water, like a handsome young 
man, but beneath like a horse; at other times as an 
old man with a long beard, out of which he wrings the 
water as he sits on the cliffs. The neck is very severe 
against any haughty maiden who makes an ill return 
to the love of her wooer; but should he himself fall in 
love with a maid of human kind, he is the most polite 
and attentive suitor in the world. The neck is also a 
great musician ; he sits on the water and plays on his 
gold harp, the harmony of which operates on all nature. 


To learn music of him, a person must present him with 
a bhick lamb and also promise him resurrection and 

The. stromkarl, called in Norway grim or fosse-grim 
(force-grim), is a musical genius like the neck. He 
who has learned from him can play in such a masterly 
manner that the trees dance and waterfalls stop at his 

The merman is described as of a handsome form 
with green or black hair and beard. He dwells either 
in the bottom of the sea or in cliffs near the sea-shore? 
and is regarded as rather a good and beneficent kind 
of being. 

The mermaid {liaffruc) is represented in the popular 
tradition sometimes as good, at other times as evil and 
treacherous. Her appearance is beautiful. Fishermen 
sometimes see her in the bright summers sun, when a 
thin mist hangs over the sea, sitting on the surface of 
the water, and combing her long golden hair with a 
golden comb, or driving up her snow-white cattle to 
feed on the strands or small islands. At other times 
she comes as a beautiful maiden, chilled and shivering 
with the cold of the night, to the fires the fishermen 
have kindled, hoping by this means to entice them to 
her love. Her appearance prognosticates both storm aiul 
ill success in their fishing. People that are drowned, 
and whose bodies are not found, are believed to be taken 
into the dwellings of the mermaids. 

It is the prevalent opinion among the common people 
of the North that all these various beings were once 
worsted in a conflict with superior pov/ers, and con- 
demned to remain until doomsday in certain assigned 
abodes. The rocks were given to the dwarfs ; the groves 
and leafy trees to the elves ; the caves and caverns to the 


hill-people; the sea, lakes and rivers to the merman, 
mermaids and necks; and the small forces (waterfalls) 
to the fossegrims. Both the Catholic and Protestant 
priests have tried to excite an aversion to these beings, 
bnt in vain. They still live and fill the fairy-tales and 
folk-lore with their strange characters, and are ca2)able 
of furnishing a series of unrivaled subjects for the 
painter and sculptor. These weird stories are excel- 
lently adapted to adorn our epic and dramatic poetry as 
well as our historic novels. But they must be thoroughly 
understood first, not only by the poet, but also by his 
reader. Thomas Keightley, from whom we have given 
a short abstract, has given us an excellent work in 
English on Gothic fairy mythology, and we would 
recommend our readers to read his work in connection 
with Dr. Dasent's Tales from the Fjeld. We have to 
present the original mythology, not its offspring. 

Ygdrasil is a most sublime and finished myth. It is 
a symbol uniting all the elements of mythology into a 
poetical system. The tree symbolizes, and extends its 
roots and branches into, the whole universe. Its roots 
are gnawed by serpents, and stags bite its branches, but 
the immortal tree still stands firm and flourishes from 
age to age. The Norsemen's whole experience of life is 
here presented in a picture that either in regard to beauty 
or depth of thought finds no equal in all the other sys- 
tems of mythology. Thomas Carlyle says : I like too that 
representation they (the Norsemen) have of the tree 
Ygdrasil : all life is figured by them as a tree. Ygdrasil, 
the Ash-tree of Existence, has its roots deep down in the 
kingdom of Hela, or Death ; its trunk reaches up heaven- 
high, spreads its boughs over the whole universe. It 
is the Tree of Existence. At the foot of it, in the Death- 
kingdom, sit three Nomas (fates), — the Past, Present, 


Future, — watering its roots from the Sacred Well. Its 
boughs, with their buddings and dislealiugs — events, 
things suffered, things done, catastrophes, — stretch 
through all lands and times. Is not every leaf of it a 
biography, every fiber there an act or word ? Its boughs 
are histories of nations ; the rustle of it is the noise of 
human existence, onwards from of old. It grows there, 
the breath of human passion rustling through it; or 
storm-tost, the storm-wind howling through it like the 
voice of all the gods. It .is Ygdrasil, the Tree of Exist- 
ence. It is the past, the present, and the future; what 
was done, what is doing, what will be done ; the infinite 
conjugation of the verb to do. Considering how human 
things circulate, each inextricably in communion with 
all, — how the word I speak to you to-day is borrowed, 
not from Ulfila, the M^eso-Goth only, but from all men 
since the first man began to speak, — I find no similitude 
so true as this of a tree. Beautiful altogether, beautiful 
and great. The machine of the universe! Alas, do but 
think of that in contrast! 

The name Ygdrasil is derived from Odin's name, 
Yggr (the deep thinker), and drasill (carrier, horse), 
Ygdrasil, therefore, means the Bearer of God, a phrase 
which finds a literal explanation when Odin hangs nine 
nights on this tree before he discovered the runes. 
Thus the Elder Edda : 

I know that I hung 

Nine whole nights. 

And to Odin offered, 

On that tree, 

From what root it springs. 

On a wind-rocked tree, 

With a spear wounded, 

Myself to myself. 

Of which no one knows. 

* Heroes and Hero-worship. 


All the tribes of nature partake of this universal tree, 
from the eagle who sits on the topmost bough down 
through the different stages of animal life ; the hawk in 
the lower strata of air, the squirrel who busily leaps 
about in the branches, the stags by the fountain, to the 
serpents beneath the surface of the earth. 

The peculiar feature of this myth is its comprehen- 
siveness. How beautiful the sight of a large tree ! Its 
far-extending branches, its moss-covered stem, its high 
crown and deep roots, remind us of the infinity of time ; 
it has seen ages roll by before we were born. In the 
evening, when our day's work is done, we lie down in its 
broad shade and think of the rest that awaits us when 
all our troubles are ended. Its leaves rustle in the 
breezes and the sunshine; they speak to us of that which 
is going on above this sorrow-stricken earth. But the 
tree is not the whole symbol. It is connected with the 
great waters, with the clear fountain with its egg-white 
waves, and with the turbulent streams that flow in the 
bowels of the earth. While the calm firmness of the tree 
and the monotonous rustling of the wind through its 
leaves invites the soul to rest, the ceaseless activity of the 
various tribes of animals that feed upon its roots and 
branches remind us of nature never at rest and never 
tiring. The tree sighs and groans beneath its burden; 
the animals move about in it and around it ; every species 
of animals has its place and destination ; the eagle soars 
on his broad wings over its top ; the serpent winds his 
slimy coils in the deep; the swan swims in the fountain; 
and while all the tribes of animated life are busily 
engaged, the dew-drops fall to refresh and cool the earth 
and the heart of man. Nay, this is not all. There is 
one who has planted the tree, and there are many who 
watch and care for it; higher beings protect it. Gods 


and men, all that possesses life and consciousness, has its 
home in this tree and its work to do. The norns con- 
stantly refresh it with water from the Urdar-fountain; 
"tlie elves hover about it; Heimdal susj^ends his tri- 
colored arch beneath it; the glory of Balder shines upon 
it; Mimer lifts his head in the distance, and the pale 
Hel watches the shades of men who have departed this 
earth and journey through the nine worlds over Gjallarbro 
to their final rewards. The picture is so grand that 
nothing but an infinite soul can comprehend it ; no brush 
can paint it, no colors can represent it. Nothing is quiet, 
nothing at rest ; all is activity. It is the whole world, 
and it can be comprehended only by the mind of man, 
by the soul of the poet, and be symbolized by the cease- 
less flow of language. It is not a theme for the painter 
or sculptor, but for the poet. Ygdrasil is the tree of 
experience of the Gothic race. It is the symbol of a 
great race, sprung originally from the same root but 
divided into many branches, Norsemen, Englishmen, 
Americans, etc. It has three roots, and experience has 
taught the Goths that there are in reality but three kinds 
of people in the world : some that work energetically for 
noble and eternal purposes, and their root is in Asaheira ; 
some that work equally energetically, but for evil and 
temporal ends, and their root is in Jotunheim ; and many 
who distinguished themselves only by sloth and impo- 
tence, and their root is in Niflheim with the goddess Hel 
or death, in Hvergelmer, where the serpent Nidhug, with 
all his reptile brood, gnaws at their lives. Thus the 
Gothic race is reflected in Ygdrasil, and if our poets will 
study it they will find that this grand myth is itself in 
fact a root in the Urdar-fountain, and from it may spring 
an Ygdrasil of poetry, extending long branches through- 


out the poetical world and delighting the nations of the 

Beneath that root of Ygdrasil, which shoots down 
to Jotunheim, there is a fountain called after its watcher 
Mwier's Fountain, in which wisdom and knowledge are 
concealed. The name Mimer means the Icnoioing. The 
giants, being older than the asas, looked deeper than 
the latter into the darkness of the past. They had 
witnessed the birth of the gods and the beginning of 
the world, and they foresaw their downfall. Concerning 
both these events, the gods had to go to them for knowl- 
edge, an idea which is most forcibly expressed in the 
Voluspa, the first song in the Elder Edda, where a vala, 
or prophetess, from Jotunheim is represented as rising 
up from the deep and unveiling the past and future to 
gods and men. It is this wisdom that Mimer keeps in 
his fountain. Odin himself must have it. In the night, 
when the sun has set behind the borders of the earth, 
he goes to Jotunheim. Odin penetrates the mysteries 
of the deep, but he must leave his eye in pawn for the 
drink which he receives from the fountain of knowledge. 
But in the glory of morning dawn, when the sun rises 
again from Jotunheim, Mimer drinks from his golden 
horn the clear mead which flows over Odin's pawn. 
Heaven and this lower world mutually impart their 
wisdom to each other. 

The norns watch over man through life. They 
spin his thread of fate at his birth and mark out with 
it the limits of his sphere of action in life. Their de- 
crees are inviolable destiny, tlieir dispensations inevi- 
table necessity. The gods themselves must bow before 
the laws of the norns ; they are limited by time ; they 
are born and must die. Urd and Verdande, the Past 
and Present, are represented as stretching a web from 


east to west, from the radiant dawn of life to the glow- 
ing sunset, and Skuld, the Future, tears it to pieces. 
There is a deeply-laid plan in the universe, a close 
union between spirit and matter. There is no such 
thing as independent life or action. The ends of the 
threads wherewith our life is woven lie deeply hid in 
the abyss of the beginning. Self-consciousness is merely 
an abstraction. The self-conscious individual is merely 
a leaf, which imagines itself to be something, but is in 
fact only a bud that unfolds itself and falls off from 
the tree of the universe. The self-contradiction between 
absolute necessity and free will was an unsolved riddle 
with our heathen ancestors, and puzzles the minds of 
many of our most profound thinkers still. Thus, says 
the Elder Edda, the norns came to decide the destiny 
of Helge Hundingsbane : 

It was in times of yore, 
When the eagles screamed, 
Holy waters fell 
From the heavenly hills ; 
Then to Helge, 
The great of soul, 
Berghild gave birth 
In Braalund. 

In the mansion it was night*. 

The norns came, 

Who should the prince's 

Life determine ; 

They him decreed 

A prince most famed to be, 

And of leaders 

Accounted best. 

With all their might they span 

The fatal threads. 

When that he burghs should overthrow 

In Braalund. 


They stretched out 

The golden cord, 

And beneath the middle 

Of the moon's mansion fixed it. 

East and west 

They hid the ends. 

Where the prince had 

Lands between ; 

Toward the north 

Nere's sister 

Cast a chain. 

Which she bade last forever. 

Nay, in the Norseman's faith, man and all things 
about him were sustained by divine power. The norns 
decreed by rigid fate each man's career, which not even 
the gods could alter. Man was free to act, but all the 
consequences of his actions were settled beforehand. 

PART 11. 



Vafinn er Vert5andi reyk. 




THE first and eldest of the asas is Odin. His name 
is derived from the verb vada (imperfect 6d), to 
walk, (compare watan, wuot, wuth, wuthen, wuothan, 
wodan). He is the all-jjervading spirit of the world, 
and produces life and spirit {d7id, aand). He does not 
create the world, but arranges and governs it. With 
Vile and Ve he makes heaven and earth from Ymer's 
body; with Hcener and Loder he makes the first man 
and woman, and he gives them spirit. All enterprise in 
peace and in war proceeds from him. He is the author 
of war and the inventor of poetry. All knowledge 
comes from him and he is the inventor of the runes. 
As the spirit of life he permeates all animate and inan- 
imate matter, the whole universe; he is the infinite 
wanderer. He governs all things, and although the 
other deities are powerful they all serve and obey him 
as children do their father. He confers many favors 
on gods and men. As it is said in the Elder Edda, in 
the lay of Hyndla: 


Wake maid of maids ! 
Wake, my friend ! 
Hyndla ! Sister, 
Who in tlie cavern dwelleat. 


216 odin's names. 

Now there is dark of darks ; 
We will both to Valhal ride 
And to the holy fane. 

Let us Odin pray 
Into our minds to enter; 
He gives and grants 
Gold to the deserving. 
He gave Hermod 
A helm and corselet, 
And from him Sigmund 
A sword received. 

Victory to his sons he gives, 

But to some riches ; 

Eloquence to the great 

And to men wit; 

Fair wind he gives to traders, 

But visions to skalds ; 

Valor he gives 

To many a warrior. 

Especially are the heroes constantly the object of 
his care. He guides and protects the brave hero through 
his whole life ; he watches over his birth and over his 
whole development; gives him wonderful weapons, 
teaches him new arts of war; assists him in critical 
emergencies, accompanies him in war, and takes the 
impetus out of the enemy's javelins; and when the 
warrior has at last grown old, he provides that he may 
not die upon his bed, but fall in honorable combat. 
Finally, he protects the social organization and influ- 
ences the human mind. He revenges murder, protects 
the sanctity of the oath, subdues hatred, and dispels 
anxieties and sorrows. 


/ Odin is called Allfather, because he is the father of 
all the gods, and Valfather (father of the slain), because 

odin's outward appearakce. 217 

lie chooses for his sons all who fall in combat. For 
their abode he has prepared Valhal and Vingolf, where 
they are called einherjes (heroes). In Asgard, Odin 
has twelve names, but in the Younger Edda forty-nine 
names are enumerated, and if to these are added all the 
names by which the poets have called him, the number 
will reach nearly two hundred. The reason for his 
many names, says the Younger Edda, is the great vari- 
ety of languages. For the various nations were obliged 
to translate his name into their respective tongues in 
order that they might supplicate and worship him. 
Some of his names, however, are owing to adventures 
that have happened to him on his journeys and which 
are related in old stories. No one can pass for a wise 
man who is not able to give an account of these won- 
derful adventures. 


In appearance, Odin is an old, tall, one-eyed man, 
with a long beard, a broad-brimmed hat, a striped cloak 
of many colors, and a spear in his hand. On his arm 
he wears the gold ring Draupner, two ravens sit on his 
shoulders, two wolves lie at his feet, and a huge chariot 
rolls above his head. He sits upon a high throne and 
looks out upon tlie Avorld, or he rides on the winds 
upon his horse Sleipner. There is a deep speculative 
expression on his countenance. In the Volsung Saga, 
Odin is revealed as follows : King Volsung had made 
preparations for an entertainment. Blazing fires burned 
along the hall, and in the middle of the hall stood a 
large tree, whose green and fair foliage covered the roof. 
(This reminds us of Ygdrasil.) King Volsung had 
placed it there, and it was called Odin's tree. Now as 
the guests sat around the fire in the evening, a man 

318 odin's outward appearance. 

entered the hall whose countenance they did not know. 
He wore a variegated cloak, was bare-footed, his breeches 
were of linen, and a wide-brimmed hat hung down 
over his face. He was very tall, looked old, and was 
one-eyed. He had a sword in his hand. The man 
went to the tree, struck his sword into it with so power- 
ful a blow that it sunk into it even to the hilt. No 
one dared greet this man. Then said he: He who 
draws this sword out of the trunk of the tree shall 
have it as a gift from me, and shall find it true that 
he never wielded a better sword. Then went the old 
man out of the hall again, and no one knew who he 
was or whither he went. Now all tried to draw the 
sword out, but it would not move, before Volsung's son, 
Sigmund, came; for him it seemed to be quite loose. 
Farther on in the Saga Sigmund had become king, 
and had already grown old when he waged war with 
King Lynge. The norns protected him so that he could 
not be wounded. In a battle with Lynge there came a 
man to Sigmund, wearing a large hat and blue cloak. 
He had but one eye, and had a spear in his hand. 
The man swung his spear against Sigmund. Sigmund's 
sword broke in two, luck had left him, and he fell. The 
same Saga afterwards tells us that Sigmund's son, Sig- 
urd, sailed against the sons of Hundiug, on a large 
dragon. A storm arose, but Sigurd commanded that 
the sails should not be taken down, even though the 
wind should split them, but rather be hoisted higher. 
As they passed a rocky point, a man cried to the ship 
and asked who was the commander of the ships and 
men. They answered that it was Sigurd Sigmundson, 
the bravest of all young men. The man said, all agree 
in praising him ; take in the sails and take me on 
board! They asked him for his name. He answered: 

odin's attributes. 219 

Hnikar they called me, when I gladdened the raven 
after the battle; call me now Karl, from the mountain, 
Fengr or Fjolner, but take me on board! They laid 
to and took him on board. The storm ceased and they 
sailed until they came to the sons of Hunding; then 
Fjolner (Odin) disappeared. In the same Saga he also 
comes to Sigurd in the garb of an old man with long 
flowing beard, and teaches him how to dig ditches by 
which to capture Fafner. 


Odin's hat represents the arched vault of heaven, 
and his blue or variegated cloak is the blue sky or 
atmosphere, and both these symbolize protection. 

Odin's ravens, Hugin (reflection) and Munin (mem- 
ory), have been mentioned before. They are perched 
upon his shoulders and whisper into his ears what they 
see and hear. He sends them out at daybreak to fly 
over the world, and they come back at eve toward meal- 
time. Hence it is that Odin knows so much and is 
called Eafnagud (raven-god). Most beautifully does Odin 
expi-ess himself about these ravens in Grimner's lay, 
in the Elder Edda: 

Hugin and Munin 

Fly each day 

Over the spacious earth. 

I fear for Hugin 

That he come not back. 

Yet more anxious am I for Munin. 

And in Odin's Eaven-song, Hug (Hugin) goes forth to 
explore the heavens. Odin's mind, then, is the flying 
raven ; he is the spiritual ruler. 

Odin has two wolves, Gere and Freke (the greedy 
one and the voracious one). Odin gives the meat that 


is set on bis table to tbese two wolves; for he bimself 
stands in no need of food. Wine is for bim both meat 
and drink. Tbus the Elder Edda, ia Grimner's lay: 

Gere and Freke 
Feeds the war-faring. 
Triumphant father of hosts ; 
For 't is with wine only 
That Odin in arms renowned 
Is nourished forever. 

To meet a wolf is a good omen. Odin amusing bim-. 
self witli bis wolves is an exquisite tbeme for tbe sculptor. 

Odin bad a ring called Draupner. We find its bis- 
tory in the conversations of Brage, tbe second part of 
the Younger Edda. Loke bad once out of malice cut 
all tbe hair ofi" Sif, tbe wife of Thor. But when Thor 
found this out be seized Loke and would have crushed 
every bone in him if he bad not sworn to get tbe elves 
of darkness to make golden hair for Sif, that would grow 
like other hair. Tben went Loke to the dwarfs, that are 
called Ivald's sons, and they made tbe hair, and Skid- 
bladner (Frey's ship), and tbe spear that Odin owned and 
is called Gungner. Tben Loke wagered bis head with 
the dwarf, whose name is Brok, that bis brother, Sindre, 
would not be able to make three more treasures as good 
as those three just named. Tbe brothers went to the 
smithy. Sindre put a pig-skin in tbe furnace and bade 
Brok blow the bellows and not stop before Sindre took 
that out of tbe furnace which be had put into it. A fly 
set itself on Brok's band and stung him, but still he 
continued blowing the bellows, and that whicb Sindre 
took out was a boar with golden bristles. Tben Sindre 
put gold into the furnace. This time tbe fly set itself 
on Brok's neck, and stung him worse, but be continued 
blowing the bellows, and that which tbe smith took out 


was the gold ring Draupner (from the verb meaning to 
drojji). The third time Sindre put iron in the furnace, 
and bade his brotlier be sure to continue blowing or 
all would be spoiled. Now the fly set itself between 
his eyes and stung his eye-lids. The blood ran down 
into his eyes, so that he could not see; then Brok let 
go of the bellows just for a moment to drive the fly 
away. That which the smith now took out was a ham- 
mer. Sindre gave his brother these treasures and bade 
him go to Asgard to fetch the wager. As now Loke 
and Brok came each with his treasures, the asas seated 
themselves upon their thrones and held consult, and 
Odin, Thor and Frey were appointed judges who should 
render a final decision. Then Loke gave Odin the 
spear, which never would miss its mark ; Thor he gave 
the hair, which immediately grew fast upon Sif's head ; 
and to Frey he gave the ship, which always got fair 
wind as soon as the sails were hoisted, no matter where 
its captain was going, and it could also be folded as a 
napkin and put into the pocket, if this were desirable. 
Thereupon Brok came forward and gave Odin the ring, 
and said that every ninth night a ring equally heavy 
would drop from it. To Frey he gave the boar, and said 
that it could run in the air and on the sea, night and 
day, faster than any horse, and the night never was so 
dark, nor the other worlds so gloomy, but that it would 
be light where this boar was present, so bright slione 
its bristles. To Thor he gave the hammer, and said 
that with it he might strike as large an object as he 
pleased; it would never fail, and when he tlirew it he 
should not be afraid of losing it, for no matter how 
far it flew it would always return into his hand, and 
at his wish it would become so small that he might 
conceal it in his bosom, but it had one fault, and that 

222 ODiJsr's attkibutes. 

was that the handle was rather short. According to the 
decision of the gods, the hammer was the best of all 
the treasures, and especially as a protection against the 
frost-giants ; they accordingly decided that the dwarf 
had won the wager. The latter now wanted Loke's head. 
Loke offered to redeem it in some way, but the dwarf 
would accept no alternatives. Well take me then, said 
Loke, and in a moment he was far away, for he had 
shoes with which he could run through the air and ovei: 
the sea. Then the dwarf asked Thor to seize him, 
which was done ; but when the dwarf wanted to cut his 
head off, Loke said : The head is yours, but not the neck.* 
Then took the dwarf thread and knife and wanted to 
pierce Loke's lips, so as to sew his lips together, but the 
knife was not sharp enough. Now it were well, if I 
had my brother's awl, said he, and instantaneously the 
awl was there, and it was sharp. Then the dwarf 
sewed Loke's lips together. (The dwarfs are here rep- 
resented as smiths of the gods.) 

The ring Draupner is a symbol of fertility. Odin 
placed this ring on Balder's funeral pile and it was 
burnt with Balder (the summer), and when Balder sent 
this ring back to Odin, his wife, the flower-goddess 
Nanna, sent Frigg, the wife of Odin, a carpet (of 
grass), which represents the return of vegetation and 
fruitfulness. Balder sends the ring back as a memento 
of the fair time when he and his father (Odin) worked 
together, and reminds the father of all, that he must 
continue to bless the earth and make it fruitful. But 
this is not all ; this ring also symbolizes the fertility of 
the mind, the creative power of the poet, the evolution 

♦Compare Shakespeare — Shj'lock and the pound of flesh: 

. . . No jot of blood; 

The words expressly are "a pound of flesh." 

odin's attributes. 223 

of one thought from the other, the wonderful chain of 
thought. The rings fell from Draupner as drop falls 
from drop. Ideas do not cling fast to their parent, but 
live an independent life when they are born; and the 
idea or thought, when once awakened, does not slumber, 
but continues to grow and develop in man after man, in 
generation after generation, evolving constantly new 
ideas until it has grown into a unique system of 
thought. If we, as our fathers undoubtedly did, make 
this gold ring typify the historical connection between 
times and events, a ring constantly multiplying and 
increasing with ring interlinked with ring in time's 
onward march, what a beautiful golden chain there has 
been formed from time's morning until now ! 

Odin had a spear called Gangner. The word means 
producing a violent shaking or trembling, and it most 
thoroughly shook whomsoever was hit by it. As has 
been seen above, it was made by the sons of Ivald (the 
dwarfs), and was presented to Odin by Loke. Odin 
speeds forth to the field of battle with golden helmet, 
resplendent armor, and his spear Gungner. Oath was 
taken on the point of Gungner. This spear is frequently 
referred to in the semi-mythological Sagas, where spears 
are seen flying over the heads of the enemy; they are 
panic-stricken and defeated. Spears are sometimes seen 
as meteorical phenomena, showing that war is impend- 
ing. The spear symbolizes Odin's strength and power) 
When Odin's spear was thrown over anybody, Odin 
thereby marked him as his own. Did not Odin wound 
himself with a spear, and thereby consecrate himself to 
heaven ? (See pp. 254-261.) When Odin puts the spear 
into the hands of the warrior, it means that he awakens 
and directs his deeds of valor. When Odin is the god 
of poetry and eloquence (Anglo-Saxon wod), then the 

224 odin's attkibutes. 

spear Gungner is the keen, stinging satire that can be 
expressed in poetry and oratory. 

Odin's horse Sleipner (slippery) was the most excel- 
lent horse. Runes were carved on his teeth. The fol- 
lowing myth gives us an account of his birth: Wlien 
the gods were constructing their abodes, and had already 
finished Midgard and Valhal, a certain artificer came 
and offered to build them, in the space of three half 
years, a residence so well fortified that they should be 
perfectly safe from the incursions of the frost-giants and 
the giants of the mountains, even though they should 
have penetrated within Midgard. But he demanded for 
his reward the goddess Frej^ja, together with the sun and 
moon. After long deliberation the gods agreed to his 
terms, provided he would finish the whole work him- 
self without any one's assistance, and all within the 
space of one winter; but if anything remained unfin- 
ished on the first day of summer, he should forfeit the 
recompense agreed on. On being told these terms, the 
artificer stipulated that he should be allowed the use 
of his horse, called Svadilfare (slippery-farer), and this 
by the advice of Loke was granted to him. He accord- 
ingly set to work on the first day of winter, and during 
the night let his horse draw stone for the building. 
The enormous size of the stones struck the gods with 
astonishment, and they saw clearly that the horse did 
one half more of the toilsome work than his master. 
Their bargain, however, had been concluded in the pres- 
ence of witnesses and confirmed by solemn oaths, for 
without these precautions a giant would not have 
thought himself safe among the gods, especially when 
Thor returned from an expedition he had then under- 
taken toward the east against evil demons. 

As the winter drew to a close, the building was far 


advanced, and the bulwarks were sufficiently high and 
massive to render this residence impregnable. In short, 
when it wanted but three days to summer, the only 
part that remained to be finished was the gateway. 
Tlien sat the gods on their seats of justice and entered 
into consultation, inquiring of one another who among 
them could liave advised to give Freyja away to Jotun- 
heim or to plunge the heavens in darkness by permit- 
ting the giant to carry away the sun and the moon. 
They all agreed that none but Loke Laufeyarson and 
the author of so many evil deeds could have given 
such bad counsel, and that he should be put to a cruel 
death if he did not contrive some way or other to pre- 
vent the artificer from completing his task and obtaining 
the stipulated recompense. They immediately proceeded 
to lay hands on Loke, who in his fright promised upon 
oath, that let it cost him what it would he would so 
manage matters that the man should lose his reward. 
That very night, when the artificer went with Svadil- 
fare for building-stone, a mare suddenly ran out of a 
forest and began to neigh. The horse being thus 
excited, broke loose and ran after the mare into the 
forest, which obliged the man also to run after his 
horse, and thus between one and the other the whole 
night was lost, so that at dawn the work had not made 
the usual progress. The man, seeing that he had no 
other means of completing his task, resumed his own 
gigantic stature, and the gods now clearly perceived 
that it was in reality a mountain giant who had come 
amongst them. No longer regarding their oaths, they 
therefore called on Thor, who immediately ran to their 
assistance, and lifting up his mallet Mjolner (the crusher) 
that the dwarfs had made, he paid the workman his 
wages, not with the sun and moon, and not even by 


sending him back to Jotunheim, for with the first blow 
he shattered the giant's skull to pieces, and hurled him 
headlong into Nitlheim. But Loke had run such a race 
with Svadilfare, that shortly after the mischief-maker 
(Loke) bore a gray foal with eight legs. This is the 
horse Sleipner, which excels all horses ever possessed by 
gods or men. The gods perjured themselves, and in 
reference to this says the Elder Edda: 

Then went tlie rulers there, 
All gods most holy. 
To their seats aloft, 
And counsel together took ; 
Who all the winsome air 
With guile had blended. 
Or to the giant's race 
Oder's maiden given.* 

Then Thor, who was there, 
Arose in wrathful mood, 
For seldom sits he still 
When such things he hears. 
Annulled were now all oaths, 
And words of promise fair. 
And faith not long before 
In council plighted. 

This riddle is propounded. Who are the two who 
ride to the Thing ? Three eyes have they together, ten 
feet and one tail; and thus they travel through the 
lands. The answer is Odin, who rides on Sleipner; he 
has one eye, the horse two; the horse runs on eight 
feet, Odin has tAvo ; only the horse has a tail. 

Odin's horse, Sleipner, symbolizes the winds of 
heaven, that blow from eight quarters. In Skaane and 
Bleking, in Sweden, it was customary to leave a sheaf 
of grain in the field for Odin's horse, to keep him from 

♦Freyja, whom the gods had promised the giant, was Oder's wife. 


treading down the grain. Wednesday is named after 
Odin (Odinsday), and on this day his horse was most 
apt to visit the fields. But in a higher sense Sleipner 
is a Pegasos. Pegasos flew from the eartli to the abodes 
of the gods; Sleipner comes from heaven, carries the 
hero unharmed through the dangers of life, and lifts 
the poet, who believes in the spirit, up to his heavenly 
home. Grundtvig calls Sleipner the courser of the poet's 
soul ; that is to say, of the Icelandic or Old Norse 
strophe in poetry, which consisted of eight verses, or four 
octometers. The most poetic is the most truthful 
interpretation of the myths. 


A whole chapter might be written about the wander- 
ings of Odin, his visits to the giants, to men, to battles, 
etc. ; but as these records are very voluminous, and are 
found to a great extent in the semi-mythological Sagas, 
in which it is difficult to separate the mythical and his- 
torical elements, we will make but a few remarks on this 
subject. All his wanderings of course describe him as 
the all-pervading spirit of the universe. They have the 
same significance as his horse Sleipner, his ravens Hugin 
and Munin, etc. He descends to the bottom of the sea 
for wisdom, he descends to earth to try the minds of 
men. In the Elder Edda journeys of Odin form the 
subjects of the lays of Vafthrudner, Grimner, Vegtam, 
etc. (See pp. 120-124.) In the lay of Vafthrudner Odin 
visits the giant Vafthrudner for the purpose of proving 
his knowledge. They propose questions relating to the 
cosmogony of the Norse mythology, on the condition 
that the baffled party forfeit his head. The giant incurs 
the penalty. Odin calls himself Gangraad, but by the last 
question the giant recognizes him and is stricken with 

228 odin's journeys. 

awe and fear. The giant must perish since he has ven- 
tured into combat with Odin. The mind subdues phys- 
ical nature. When the giant recognizes Odin he real- 
izes his own depressed nature and must die. No rogue 
can look an honest man in the eye. In Grimnersmal 
Odin assumes the name of G-rimner, and goes to try the 
mind of his foster-son Geirrod. Geirrod tortures him and 
places him between two fires. And here begins the lay, 
in which Odin glorifies himself and the power of the 
gods and pities his fallen foster-son, but finally discloses 
himself and declares death to Geirrod for his want of 
hospitality. Thus Odin closes his address to Geirrod iu 
the lay of Grimner : 

Many things I told thee. 

But tliou liast few remembered : 

Thy friends mislead thee. 

My friend's sword 

Lying I see 

With blood all dripping. 

The fallen by the sword 
Ygg shall now have ; 
Thy life is now run out : 
Wrath with thee are the dises, 
Odin thou now shalt see : 
Draw near to me, if thou canst. 

Odin I am named, 

Ygg I was called before. 

Before that Thund, 

Vaker and Skilfing, 

Vafud and Hroptatyr ; 

With the gods Gaut and Jalk,* 

Ofner and Svafner ; 

All which I believe to be 

Names of me alone. 

* Jack the Giant-killer. 



In the lay of Vegtam, Odiu goes to Hel, and wakes 
the prophetess to learn the fate of his son Balder. He 
also takes counsel from the utmost sources of the ocean, 
and listens to the voice from the deep. Some myths 
refer to Odin's pawning his eye with Mimer, others to 
his talking with Mimer's head. 

The Younger Edda, having stated that Mimer's well 
is situated under that root of the world-ash Ygdrasil 
that extends to Jotunheim, adds that wisdom and wit 
lie concealed in it, and that Odin came to Mimer one 
day and asked for a drink of water from the fountain. 
He obtained the drink, but was obliged to leave one of 
his eyes in pawn for it. To this myth refers the follow- 
ing passage from the Voluspa in the Elder Edda: 

Alone she* sat without. 
When came that ancient 
Dreaded priucef of the gods, 
And in his eye she gazed. 

The vala to Odin: 

Of what wouldst thou ask me? 
Odin! I know all, 
Where thou thine eye didst sink 
In the pure well of Mimer. 

Mimer drinks mead each morn 
From Valfather's pledge. 
Understand ye yet, or what? 

This myth was given in connection with Ygdrasil, 
but it is repeated here to shed a ray of light upon the 
character of Odin, and in this wise Mimer is brought 
into a clearer sunlight also. 

* The vala, or prophetess. t Odin. 


In regard to Odin's speaking with Mimer's head, we 
have the following passage in the lay of Sigdrifa: 

On the rock he* stood 

With edged sword, 

A helm on his head he bore. 

Then sj)ake Mimer's head 

Its first wise word, 

And true sayings uttered. 

And in Voluspii, when Eagnarok is impending: 

Mimer's sons dance, 

But the central tree takes fire 

At the resounding 


Loud blows Heimdal, 

His horn is raised; 

Odin speaks 

Witit Mimer's Jiead. 

Odin's eye is the sun. Mimer's fountain is the 
utmost sources of the ocean. Into it, Odin's eye, the 
sun sinks every evening to search the secrets of the deep, 
and every morning Mimer drinks the gold-brown mead 
(aurora). When the dawn colors the sea with crimson 
and scarlet, then Mimer's white fountain is changed to 
golden mead; it is then Mimer, the watcher of the 
fountain of knowledge, drinks with his golden horn the 
clear mead which j&ows over Odin's pledge. But Mimer 
means memory f (Anglo-Saxon meojnor), and as we know 
that our ancestors paid deep reverence to the memories 
of the past, and that the fallen heroes, who enjoyed the 
happiness of Valhal with Odin, reveled in the memory 
of their deeds done on earth, it is proper to add that 
Mimer is an impersonation of memory. Our sjoirit 
(Odin, od, aancT) sinks down into the depths of the 

* Odin. t See Vocabulary iiuoer the word Mimer. 


past (memory, the sea, Odin's fountain), and brings 
back golden thoughts, which are developed by the 
knowledge which we obtained from the depths beneath 
the sea of past history and experience. What a vast 
ocean is the history and experience of our race! 


Hlidskjalf is Odin's throne. The accounts of it are 
very meagre. The Younger Edda speaks of a stately 
mansion belonging to Odin called Valaskjalf, which was 
built by the gods and roofed with pure silver, and in 
which is the throne called Hlidskjalf. When Odin is 
seated on this throne he can see over the whole world. 
But he not only looks, he also listens. 

Odin listened 
In Hlidskjalf, 

it is said in Odin's Eaven-song; in Grimner's lay it 
is stated that Odin and Frigg, his wife, were sitting in 
Hlidskjalf, looking over all the world ; and in the lay 
of Skirner we read that Frey, son of Njord, had one 
day seated himself in Hlidskjalf. As Odin every morning 
sends out his ravens, it seems to be his first business, 
as a good father, to look out upon the world that he 
has made, and see how his children are doing, and 
w^hether they need his providential care in any respect. 
Hlidskjalf and Valhal must not be confounded. Valhal 
will be explained hereafter. It is situated in Gladsheim, 
wliere Odin sat with his chosen heroes and drank wine. 
But Valaskjalf is a place apart from Gladsheim, and on 
its highest pinnacle above the highest arches of heaven 
is Odin's throne, Hlidskjalf 



We have now presented the mythological Odin as 
based on the inscrutable phenomena of nature, and have 
given some hints in regard to the ethical or anthropo- 
morphic element contained in each myth. Our next 
subject will be Odin's wives, their maid-servants, his sons, 
etc.; but before we proceed to them we will give a short 
outline of the historical Odin, as he is presented in the 
Heimskringia of Snorre Sturleson by Saxo Grammaticus 
and others. Mr. Mallet, the French writer on Northern 
Antiquities, has given a synoptical view of all that these 
writers have said about tlie wanderings and exploits of 
this famous person, and we will make an abstract from 

The Roman Empire had arrived at its highest point of 
power, and saw all the then known world subject to its 
laws, when an unforeseen event raised up enemies against 
it from the very bosom of the forests of Scythia and on 
the banks of the Tanais. Mithridates. by flying had 
drawn Pompey after him into those deserts. The king 
of Pontus sought there for refuge and new means of 
vengeance. He hoped to arm against the ambition of 
Rome all the barbarous nations, his neighbors, whose 
liberty she threatened. He succeeded in this at first, but 
all those peoples, ill united as allies, poorly armed as 
soldiers, and still worse disciplined, were forced to yield 
to the genius of Pompey. Odin is said to have been of 
this number. He was obliged to flee from the vengeance 
of the Romans and to seek, in countries unknown to his 
enemies, that safety which he could no longer find in 
his own. 

Odin commanded the Asas, whose country was situ- 
ated between the Pontus Euxinus and the Caspian Sea» 


Their principal city was Asgard. Odin having united 
under his banners the youth of the neighboring nations, 
marclied toward tlie west and north of Europe, subduing 
all the peoples he met on his way and giving them to 
one or other of his sons for subjects. Many sovereign 
families of the North are said to be descended from these 
princes. Thus Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon chiefs who 
conquered Britain in the fifth century, counted Odin in 
the number of their ancestors. So did also the other 
Anglo-Saxon princes, as well as the greater part of the 
princes of Lower Germany and the North. 

After having disposed of so many countries and con- 
firmed and settled his new governments, Odin directed 
his course toward Scandinavia, passing through Hol- 
stein and Jutland. These provinces made him no resist- 
ance. Then he passed into Funen (Denmark), which 
submitted as soon as he appeared. In this island he 
remained for a long time and built the city of Odense 
(Odins-e//, Odin's island), which still preserves in its 
name the memory of its founder. Hence he extended 
his authority over all the North. He subdued the rest 
of Denmark and placed his son Skjold upon its throne. 
The descendants of Skjold continued for many genera- 
tions to rule Denmark, and were called Skjoldings. 

Odin, who seems to have been better pleased to give 
crowns to his children than to wear them himself, after- 
wards passed over into Sweden, where at that time ruled 
a prince by name Gylfe, who paid him great honors and 
even worshiped him as a divinity. Odin quickly acquired 
in Sweden the same authority as he had obtained in 
Denmark. The Swedes came in crowds to do him hom- 
age, and by common consent bestowed the title of king 
upon his son Yngve and his posterity. Hence sprung 
the Ynglings, a name by which the kings of Sweden 


were for a long time distinguished. Gylfe died and was 
forgotten ; Odin acquired lasting fame by his distin- 
guished rule. He enacted new laws, introduced the 
customs of his own country, and established at Sigtuna, 
an ancient city in the same province as Stockholm, a 
supreme council or tribunal, composed of twelve judges. 
Their business was to watch over the public weal, to 
distribute justice to the people, to preside over the new 
worship, which Odin had brought with him into the 
North, and to preserve faithfully the religious and mag- 
ical secrets which that prince dej^osited with them. He 
levied a tax on every man throughout the country, but 
engaged on his part to defend the inhabitants against 
all their enemies and to defray the expense of the wor- 
ship rendered to the gods at Sigtuna. 

These great acquisitions seem not, however, to have 
satisfied his ambition. The desire of extending: further 
his religion, his authority, and his glory, caused him to 
undertake the conquest of Norway, His good fortune 
followed him thither, and this kingdom quickly obeyed 
a son of Odin named Saeming, who became the head of 
a family the different branches of which reigned for a 
long time in Norway. 

After Odin had finished these glorious achievements 
he retired into Sweden, where, perceiving his end to 
draw near, he would not wait for a lingering disease to 
put an end to that life which he had so often and so 
valiantly hazarded in the battle-field, but gathering round 
him the friends and companions of his fortune, he gave 
himself nine wounds in the form of a circle with the 
point of a lance, and many other cuts in his skin with 
his sAvord. As he was dying he declared he was going 
back to Asgard to take his seat among the gods at an 
eternal banquet, where he would receive with great 


honors all who should expose themselves intrepidly in 
battle and die bravely with their swords in their hands. 
As soon as he had breathed his last they carried his 
body to Sigtuna, where, in accordance with a custom 
introduced by him into the North, his body was burned 
with much pomp and magnificence. 

Such was the end of this man, whose death was 
as extraordinary as his life. It has been contended by 
many learned men that a desire of being revenged on 
the Romans was the ruling principle of his whole con- 
duct. Driven by those enemies of universal liberty from 
his former home, his resentment was the more violent, 
since the Goths considered it a sacred duty to revenge 
all injuries, especially those offered to their relations or 
country. He had no other view, it is said, in traversing 
so many distant kingdoms, and in establishing with so 
much zeal his doctrines of valor, but to arouse all 
nations against so formidable and odious a nation as 
that of Rome. This leaven which Odin left in the 
bosoms of the worshipers of the gods, fermented a long 
time in secret ; but in the fullness of time, the signal 
given, they fell upon this unhappy empire, and, after 
many repeated shocks, entirely overturned it, thus re- 
venging the insult offered so many ages before to their 

Tbe Sagas paint Odin as the most persuasive of men. 
Nothing could resist the force of his words. He some- 
times enlivened his harangues with verses, which he com- 
posed extemporaneously, and he was not only a great 
poet, but it was he who taught the art of poetry to the 
Norsemen. He was the inventor of the runic characters, 
which so long were used in the North. This marking 
down the unseen thought that is in man with written 
characters is the most wonderful invention ever made; 

236 odin's wives. 

it is almost as miraculous as speech itself, and well 
may it be called a sort of second speech. But what 
most contributed to make Odin pass for a god was his 
skill in magic. He could run over the world in the 
twinkling of an eye; he had the command of the air 
and the tempests, he could transform himself into all 
sorts of shapes, could raise the dead, could foretell 
things to come, could by enchantments deprive his 
enemies of health and strength and discover all the 
treasures concealed in the earth. He knew how to 
sing airs so tender and melodious, that the very plains 
and mountains would open and expand with delight ; 
the ghosts, attracted by the sweetness of his songs, 
would leave their infernal caverns and stand motionless 
around him. 

But while his eloquence, together with his august 
and venerable deportment, procured him love and re- 
spect in a calm and peaceable assembly, he was no less 
dreadful and furious in battle. He inspired his enemies 
with such terror that they thought they could not de- 
scribe it better than by saying he rendered them blind 
and deaf. He would appear like a wolf all desperate and 
biting his very shield for rage, he would throw liimself 
amidst the opposing ranks, making around him the 
most horrible carnage, without receiving any wound 
himself. Such is the historical Odin of the North, 
such was, in other words, the great example that the 
Norsemen had to imitate in war and in peace. 


Odin's wives are Jord (Fjorgyn, Hlodyn), Eind and 
Frigg. Heaven is married to earth. This we find in 
all mythologies (Uranos and Gaia, Zeus and Demeter, 
etc.) Among the Norsemen also the ruler of heaven 

odin's wives. 237 

and earth (Odin) enters into marriage relations with his 
own handiwork. This relation is expressed in three 
ways: Odin Is married to Jord, to Frigg, and to Kind. 
Jord is the original, uninhabited earth, or the earth 
without reference to man ; Frigg is the inhabited, cul- 
tivated earth, the abode of man, and Eiud is the earth 
when it has again become unfruitful, when the white 
flakes of winter have , covered its crust ; it is in this 
latter condition that she long resists the loving embraces 
of her husband. These three relations are expressed still 
more clearly by their children. With Jord Odin begets 
Thor, with Frigg Balder, and with Rind Vale. Jord 
is the Greek Gaia, Frigg is Demeter, but the fortunate 
Greeks had no goddess corresponding to Eind ; they 
knew not the severe Norse winter. 

Jord is sometimes called Fjorgyn and Hlodyn, but 
neither of these names occur many times in the Eddas. 
There are only found occasional allusions to her, such 
as the flesh of Ymer, the daughter of Annar, sister of 
Dag, mother of Thor, etc. 

Frigg is the daughter of Fjorgyn and the first among 
the goddesses, the queen of the asas and asynjes. Odin 
is her dearly beloved husband. She sits with him in 
Hlidskjalf and looks out upon all the worlds, and for 
the death of their son, the light Balder, they mourn to- 
gether with all nature. Frigg knows the fate of men, 
but she never says or prophesies anything about it her- 
self. She possesses a falcon-disguise, which Loke once 
borrowed of her. She possesses a magnificent mansion 
Fensal, where she sat weeping overValhal's misfortune 
after the death of Balder. It is not certain whether 
Friday is named after Frigg or Freyja or after Frey, but/ 
the probabilities are that it is Freyja's day (dies Veneris ).l 
Wiiile Frigg and Freyja are by many authors confounded,' 

238 frigg's maid-servants. 

they are nevertheless wholly different characters, Frigg 
is «s«queen, Freyja is vanadis. Frigg is a mother's love ; 
Freyja is the love of the youth or maiden. The asas 
are land deities, the vans are divinities of the water. 
The vana-goddess Freyja represents the snrging, billowy, 
unsettled love ; the asynje Frigg represents love in its 
nobler and more constant form. 

SECTiojsr X. frigg's maid-servants. 

Fulla, Hlyn, Gnaa, Snotra, Var, Lofn (Sjofn), and 
Syn, are enumerated as maid-servants of Frigg. 

Fulla goes about with her hair flowing over her 
shoulders and her head adorned with a golden ribbon. 
She is intrusted with the toilette and slippers of Frigg 
and admitted into the most important secrets of that 
goddess. The word Fulla means full, fulness, and as 
the servant of Frigg she represents the fulness of the 
earth, which is beautifully suggested by her waving hair 
and golden ribbon (liarvest), and when Balder sent the 
ring Draupner from Hel, his wife Nanna sent Frigg a 
carpet, and Fulla a gold ring. 

Hlyn has the care of those whom Frigg intends to 
deliver from peril. 

Gnaa is the messenger that Frigg sends into the 
various worlds on her errands. She has a horse that 
can run through air and water, called Hofvarpner (the 
hoof-thrower). Once, as she drove out, certain vans 
saw her car in the air, when one of them exclaimed : 

What flies there? 
What goes there? 
In the air aloft what glides ? 

She answered 

I fly not, though I go, 
And glide through the air 

GEFJUN — EIR. 239 

On Hofvarpner, 

Whose sire's Hamskerper* 

And dame Gardrofa.f 

Gnaa is interpreted to mean the mild breezes, that 
Frigg sends out to produce good weather. 

Vur listens to the oaths that men take, and par- 
ticularly the troth plighted between man and woman, 
and punishes those who keep not their promises. She 
is wise and prudent, and so penetrating that nothing 
remains hidden from her. Her name Var means wary, 

Lofn {lofa, lohen, love) is so mild and gracious to those 
who invoke her, that by a peculiar privilege which either 
Odin himself or Frigg has given her, she can remove 
every obstacle that may prevent the union of lovers 
sincerely attached to each other. Hence her name is 
applied to denote love, and whatever is beloved by 

Sjofn delights in turning men's hearts and thoughts 
to love; hence love is called from her name sjafni. 

Syn keeps the door in the hall and shuts it against 
those who ought not to enter. She presides at trials, 
when anything is to be denied on oath ; whence the 
proverb, Syn (negation) is set against it, when anything 
is denied. 


The norns or destinies have been previously explained 
(see p. 190) ; Nauna will be discussed in connection 
with Balder, and Freyja, the goddess of love, in con- 
nection with Njord and Frey; but there are besides 
these a few other goddesses, who demand our attention 

*He who hardens the hide. + Fence-breaker. 

240 GEFJUN. 

Gefjnn is a maid, and all those who die maids become 
her hand-maidens. Of her there is the following anec- 
dote in the Younger Edda. King Gylfe ruled over the 
land which is now called SAveden. It is related of him 
that he once gave a wayfaring woman, as a recompense 
for her having diverted him, as much land in his realm 
as she could plow with four oxen in a day and a night.* 
This woman was however of the race of the asas, and 
was called Gefjun. She took four oxen from the North, 
out of Jotunheim, (but they were the sons she had had 
with a giant,) and set them before a plow. Now the 
plow made such deep furrows that it tore up the land, 
which the oxen drew westward out to the sea until they 
came to a sound. There Gefjun fixed the land and called 
it Zealand. And the place where the land had stood 
became water, and formed a lake which is now called 
Logrinn (the sea) in Sweden, and the inlets of this lake 
correspond exactly with the headlands of Zealand in 
Denmark. Thus saith the Skald, Brage : 

Gefjun drew from Gylfe, 

Rich in stored up treasure. 

The land she joined to Denmark. 

Four heads and eight eyes bearing. 

While hot sweat trickled down them, 

The oxen dragged the reft mass 

That formed this winsome island. 

The etymology of Gefjun is uncertain. Some ex- 
plain it as being a combination of the Greek yvi and 
Norse fjon, separation {terrcB separatio). Grimm com- 
pares it with the Old Saxon gehan, Anglo-Saxon geofon, 
gifan, the ocean. Grundtvig derives it from Anglo- 
Saxon gefean, gladness. He says it is the same word as 
Funen (Fyn), and that the meaning of the myth is that 

* Compare with this myth Dido and the founding of Carthage. 

EIND. 341 

Fimen and Jutland with united strength tore Zealand 
from Sweden. This would then be a historical inter- 

The derivation from gefa, to give, has also been sug- 
gested, and there is no doubt thac the plowing Gefjun is 
the goddess of agriculture. She unites herself with the 
giants (the barren and unfruitful fields or deserts) and 
subdues them, thus preparing the land for cultivation. 
In this sense she is Frigg's maid-servant. Gefjun, the 
plowed laud, develops into Frigg, the fruit-bearing earth; 
hence she is a maid, not a woman. The maid is not, 
but shall become fruitful. 

Eir is the goddess of the healing art, and this is 
about all that we know of her; but that is a great deal. 
A healer for our frail body and for the sick mind ! 
what a beneficent divinity! 


This goddess was mentioned in Section IX. It is 
the third form of earth in its relation to Odin. Thus 
the lay of Vegtam, in the Elder Edda: 

Rind a son sliall bear 

In the wintry halls. 

He shall slaj^ Odin's son 

When one night old. 

He a hand will not wash, 

Nor his hair comb, 

Ere he to the pile has borne 

Balder's adversary. 

Odin's repeated wooing of this maid is expressed in 
Hcivamiil, of the Elder Edda, as follows: 

The mind only knows 
What lies near the heart; 

242 KIND. 

That alone is conscious of our affections. 

No disease is worse 

To a sensible man 

Than not to be content with him&clf. 

That I experienced 
When in the reeds I sat 
Awaiting my delight. 
Body and soul to me 
Was that discreet maiden: 
Nevertheless I possess her not. 

Billing's lass* 

On her couch I found. 

Sun-bright, sleeping. 

A prince's joy 

To me seemed naught. 

If not with that form to live. 

Yet nearer night, she said, 

Must thou, Odin, come. 

If thou wilt talk the maiden over; 

All will be disastrous 

Unless we alone 

Are privy to such misdeed. 

I returned, 

Thinking to love 

At her wise desire ; 

I thought 

I should obtain 

Her whole heart and love. 

When next I came, 

The bold warriors were 

All awake. 

With lights burning. 

And bearing torches : 

Thus was the way to pleasure closed. 

* Rind was daughter of Billing. 

RIND. 243 

But at the approach of morn. 

When again I came, 

The liousehold all was sleeping ; 

The good damsel's dog 

Alone I found 

Tied to the bed. 

Many a fair maiden, 

When rightly known. 

Toward men is fickle : 

That I experienced 

When that discreet maiden I 

Strove to win : 

Contumely of every kind 

That wily girl 

Heaped upon me ; 

Nor of that damsel gained I aught. 

This is clearly the same story as is related by Saxo 
Grammaticus, as follows: Odin loves a maiden, whose 
name is Rind, and who has a stubborn disposition. 
Odin tried to revenge the death of his son Balder. Then 
he was told by Eosthiof that he with Rind, the daugh- 
ter of the king of the Ruthenians, would beget another 
son, who would revenge his brother's death. Odin put 
on his broad-brimmed hat and went into the service of 
the king, and won the friendship of the king, for as 
commander he put a whole army to flight. He revealed 
his love to the king, but when he asked the maiden 
for a kiss, she struck his ear. The next year he came 
as a smith, called himself Rosterus, and offered the 
maiden a magnificent bracelet and beautiful rings; but 
she gave his ear another blow. The third time he came 
as a young warrior, but she thrust him away from her 
so violently that he fell head first to the ground. 
Finally he came as a woman, called himself Vecha, and 
said he was a doctress. As Rind's servant-maid, he 

244 KIND. 

washed her feet iu the evening, and when she became 
sick he promised to cure her, but the remedy was so 
bitter that she must first be bound. He represented to 
her father that it, even against her wish, must operate 
with all its dissolving power, and permeate all her limbs 
before she could be restored to health. Thus he won 
the maiden, as some think, with the secret consent of 
her father. But the gods banished Odin from Byzan- 
tium, and accepted in his place a certain Oiler, whom 
they even gave Odin's name. This Oiler had a bone, 
which he had so charmed by incantations that he could 
traverse the ocean with it as in a ship. Oiler was ban- 
ished again by the gods, and betook himself to Sweden ; 
but Odin returned in his divine dignity and requested 
his son Bous, whom Rind had borne, and who showed 
a great proclivity for war, to revenge the death of his 
brother. Saxo Grammaticus relates this as confidently 
as if it were the most genuine history, not having the 
faintest suspicion as to its mythical character. 

Saxo's Rosthiof is mentioned in the Elder Edda as 
Hross-thiofr (horse-thief), of Hrimner's (the frost's rime's) 
race. Saxo's Vecha is Odin, Avho in the Elder Edda is 
called Vak. The latter portion of the myth is not given 
in Havamal, and were it not for faithful Saxo we should 
scarcely understand that portion of the Elder Edda which 
was quoted above. But with the light that he sheds 
upon it there is no longer any doubt. Rind is the earth, 
not generally speaking, but the earth who after the death 
of Balder is consigned to the power of winter. Does not 
the English word rind remind us of the hard-frozen 
crust of the earth ? Defiantly and long she resists the 
love of Odin; in vain he proffers her the ornaments of 
summer ; in vain he reminds her of his warlike deeds, 
the Norseman's most cherished enterprise in the summer- 

RIND. 245 

season. By his all-powerful witchcraft he must dissolve 
and as it were melt her stubborn mind. Finally she 
gives birth to Vale, the strong warrior. 

In the incantation of Groa, in the Elder Edda, this 
is the first song that the mother sings to her son': 

I will sing to thee first 

One that is thought most useful, 

Wliich Rind sang to Ran ; * 

That from thy shoulders thou shouldst cast 

What to thee seems irksome : 

Let thyself thyself direct. (Be independent ! ) 

What is it that seems so irksome to Kind and Ean, 
and that both cast from their shoulders in order to 
become independent ? It is the ice. When Eind had 
thrown it off she requested the sea-goddess Kan to do 

The Greeks have a myth corresponding somewhat to 
this. The god of the heavens, Zeus, comes down in the 
rain into Hera's lap ; but when she resisted his entreaties 
Zeus let fall a shower of rain, while she was sitting on 
the top of a mountain, and he changed himself to a 
nightingale (a symbol of spring-time). Then Hera com- 
passionately took the wet and dripping bird into her lap. 
But look at the difference! Hera soon gives way and 
pities, but our Norse Kind makes a desperate resistance. 
It repeatedly looks as if Odin had conquered, but the 
maid reassumes her stubborn disposition. How true this 
is of the climate in the northern latitudes ! Kind is not 
inapplicable to our Wisconsin winters. 

Such is the physical interpretation of Odin's relation 
to Frigg and Kind. Heaven and earth are wedded 
together ; and upon this marriage earth presents itself in 
two forms : fruitful and blest, unfruitful and imprisoned 

* The goddess of the sea. 



in the chains of cold and frost. As the king of the year 
Odin embraces both of tliem. Bnt Odhi is also the 
spiritual {aand) king, who unites himself with the human 
earthly mind. He finds it crude and uncultured, but 
susceptible of impressions. Pure thoughts and noble 
feelings are developed, which grow into blooming activ- 
ities. But then comes back again the unfeeling coldness 
and defiant stubbornness which take possession of the 
mind, shutting out the influence of truth upon the mind. 
It is a sad time when doubt and skepticism and despair 
every night lay their leaden weight upon the poor man's 
soul. However to the honest seeker of truth it is only 
a transitory state of trial. A wise Providence takes him 
with tender and patient hands again to his bosom. He 
sends down showers of blessings or misfortunes upon 
him. With his mild breath he melts the frozen heart, 
and it at once clothes itself with garlands of divinest 
hues. With all his charms he touches the wintry rind 
that encases us, and the mind stands forth unmanacled 
and free. What to the year is light summer and dark 
winter is to us bright and gloomy periods of our exist- 
ence, that succeed each other in their turn, advancing 
or impeding our spiritual development, which must con- 
tinue forever. This is also contained in the myth about 
Odin and Kind, nay, it is the better half. 


Poetry is represented as an inspiring drink. He Avho 
partakes of it is skald, poet. This drink was kept with 
the giants, where Gunlad protected it. Odin goes down 
to the giants, conquers all obstacles, wins Gunlad's affec- 
tion, and gets permission to partake of the drink. He 
brings it to the upper world and gives it to men. Thus 


poetry originated and developed. Thus it is related in 
the Younger Edda: 

^ger having expressed a wish to know how poetry- 
originated, Brage, the god of poetry, informed him that 
the asas and vans having met to put an end to the war 
which had long been carried on between them, a treaty 
of peace was agreed to and ratified by each party spitting 
into a jar. As a lasting sign of the amity -^vhich was 
thenceforward to subsist between the contending parties, 
the gods formed out of this spittle a being, to whom 
they gave the name of Kvaser, and whom they endowed 
with such a high degree of intelligence that no one 
could ask him a question that he was unable to answer. 
Kvaser then traversed the whole world to teach men 
wisdom, but the dwarfs, Fjalar and Galar, having invited 
him to a feast, treacherously murdered him. They let 
his blood run into two cups and a kettle. The name 
of the kettle is Odroerer, and the names of the cups are 
Son and Bodn. By mixing up his blood with honey 
they composed a drink of such surpassing excellence 
that whoever partakes of it acquires the gift of song 
(becomes a poet or man of knowledge, shcild, e6a 
frc&6amcv^r). When the gods inquired what had become 
of Kvaser, the dwarfs told them that he had been suf- 
focated with his own wisdom, not being able to find 
anyone who, by proposing to him a sufficient number 
of learned questions, might relieve him of its super- 

The dwarfs invited a giant, by name Gilling, and his 
wife. They proposed to the giant to take a boat-ride 
with them out on the sea, but they rowed on to a rock 
and capsized. Gilling could not swim, and perished, but 
the dwarfs rowed ashore, and told his wife of his death, 
which made her burst forth in a flood of tears. Then 


Fjalar asked her whether it would not be some conso- 
lation to her to look out upon the water, where her 
husband had perished; and when she consented to this, 
Fjalar said to his brother Galar that he should get up 
above the door, and, as she passed out through it, he 
should let fall a mill-stone upon her head, for he was 
sick and disgusted with her crying. The brother did 
so, and thus she perished also. A son of Gilling, a 
giant by name Suttung, avenged these treacherous deeds. 
He took the dwarfs out to sea and placed them on a 
shoal, which was flooded at high water. In this critical 
position they implored Suttung to spare their lives, and 
accept the verse-inspiring beverage, which they possessed, 
as an atonement for their having killed his parents. 
Suttung, having agreed to these conditions, released the 
dwarfs, and, carrying the mead home with him, com- 
mitted it to the care of his daughter Gunlad. Hence 
poetry is indifferently called Kvaser's blood, Suttung's 
mead, the dwarfs' ransom, etc. 

How did the gods get possession of this valuable 
mead of Suttung ? Odin being fully determined to ac- 
quire it, set out for Jotunheim, and after journeying 
for some time he came to a meadow, in which nine 
thralls were mowing. Entering into conversation with 
them, Odin oflFered to whet their scythes, an offer which 
they gladly accepted. He took a wlietstone from his 
belt and whetted their scythes, and finding that it had 
given their scythes an extraordinarily keen edge the 
thralls asked him whether he was willing to dispose of it ; 
but Odin threw the whetstone up into the air, and as all 
the thralls attempted to catch it as it fell, each brought 
his scythe to bear on the neck of one of his comrades, 
so that they were all killed in the scramble. Odin took 
up his night's lodging at the house of Suttung's brother 


Bauge, who told him he was sadly at a loss for labor- 
ers, his nine thralls having slain each other. Odin who 
here called himself BoLverk (one who can perform the 
most difiicult work), said that for a draught of Suttung's 
mead he would do the work of nine men for him. Bauge 
answered that he had no control over it. Suttung wanted 
it alone, but he would go with Bolverk and try to get 
it. These terms were agreed on, and Odin worked for 
Bauge the whole summer, doing the work of nine men; 
but when winter set in he wanted his reward. Bauge 
and Odin set out together, and Bauge explained to 
Suttung the agreement between him and Bolverk, but 
Suttuug was deaf to his brother's entreaties and would 
not part with a drop of the precious drink, which was 
carefully preserved in a cavern under his daughter's cus- 
tody. Into" this cavern Odin was resolved to penetrate. 
We must invent some stratagem, said he to Bauge. He 
then gave Bauge the augur, which is called Kate, and 
said to him that he should bore a hole through the rock, 
if the edge of the augur was sharp enough. Bauge did 
so, and said that he now had bored through. But Odin, 
or Bolverk as he is here called, blew into the augur- 
hole and the chips flew into his face. He then per- 
ceived that Bauge intended to deceive him and com- 
manded him to bore clear through. Bauge bored again, 
and, when Bolverk blew a second time, the chips flew 
the other way. Then Odin transformed himself into a 
worm, crept through the hole, and resuming his natural 
shape won the heart of Gunlad. Bauge put the augur 
down after him, but missed him. After having passed 
three nights with the ftiir maiden, he had no great dif- 
ficulty in inducing her to let him take a draught out 
of each of the three jars called Odroerer, Bodu, and 
Son, in which the mead was kept. But wishing to 


make the most of his advantuge, he drank so deep that 
uot a drop was left in the vessels. Transforming himself 
into an eagle, he then flew off as fast as his wings could 
carry him, but Suttung becoming aware of the strata- 
gem, also took upon himself an eagle's guise and flew 
after him. The gods, on seeing him approach Asgard, 
set out in the yard all the jars they could lay their hands 
on, which Odin filled by disgorging through his beak 
the wonder-working liquor he had drunk. He was how- 
ever so near being caught by Suttung, that he sent some 
of the mead after him backwards, and as no care was 
taken of this it fell to the share of poetasters. It is 
called the drink of silly poets. But the mead discharged 
into the jars was kept for the gods and for those men 
who have sufficient wit to make a right use of it. Hence 
poetry is called Odin's booty, Odin's gift, the beverage 
of the gods, etc. 

But let us look at this myth in its older and purer 
form. Thus the Elder Edda, in Havamal : 

Oblivion'a heron 't is called 
That over potations hovers ; 
He steals the minds of men. 
With this bird's pinions 
I was fettered 
In Gunlad's dwelling. 

Drunk I was, 

I was over-drunk 

At that cunning Fjalar's. 

It 's the best drunkenness 

When every one after it 

Regains his reason. 

This passage then refers to the effects of the strong 
drink of poetry, and Odin recommends us to use it witli 
moderation. Would it not be well for some of our poets 
to heed the advice ? 


Thus Havamal again : 

The old giant* I sought ; 
Now I am come back ; 
Little got I there by silence; 
In many words 
I spoke to my advantage 
In Suttung's halls. 

Gunlad gave me, 

On her golden seat, 

A draught of the precious mead ; 

A bad recompense 

I afterwards made her. 

For her whole soul, 

Her fervent love. 

Rate's mouth I caused 
To make a space. 
And to gnaw the rock ; 
Over and under me 
Were the giant's ways : 
Thus I my head did peril. 

Of a well-assumed form 

I made good use : 

Few things fail the wise ; 

For Odrcerer 

Is now come up 

To men's earthly dwellings. 

'Tis to me doubtful 
That I could have come 
From the giant's courts 
Had not Gunlad aided ni:- 
That good damsel 
Over whom I laid my arm. 

On the day following 
Came the frost-giants 

* Suttung. 


To learn something of tlie High One. 
In the High One's hall : 
After Bolverk they inquired 
Whether he with the gods were come, 
Or Suttung had destroyed him. 

Odin, I believe, 

A ring-oath gave. 

Who in his faith will trust? 

Suttung defrauded. 

Of his drink bereft. 

And Gunlad made to weep. 

It is a beautiful idea that Odin creeps into Suttung's 
hall as a serpent, but when he has drunk the mead of 
poetry, when he has become inspired, he soars away on 
eagles' pinions. 

Odin's name, Bolverk, may mean the one working evil, 
which might be said of him in relation to the giants, 
or the one who accomplishes difficult things, which then 
would impersonate the difficulty in mastering the art of 
poetry. Without a severe struggle no one can gain a 
victory in the art of poetry, and least of all in the Old 
Norse language. Gunlad (from gunnr, struggle, and 
la(Sa, to invite) invites Odin to this struggle. She sits 
well fortified in the abode of the giant. She is sur- 
rounded by stone walls. The cup in which was the mead 
is called Odroerer {od-rcerer, that which moves the spirit); 
that is, the cup of inspiration ; and the myth is as clear 
as these names. Kvaser is the fruit of which the juice 
is pressed and mixed with honey ; it produces the in- 
spiring drink. It is also pertinently said that Kvaser 
perishes in his own wisdom. Does not the fruit burst 
from its superabundance of juice? But do not take only 
the outside skin of this myth ; press the ethical juice 
out of it. 

SAGA. 253 

It should be noticed here that Kvaser (the spit, the 
ripe fruit) is produced by a union of asas and vans, an 
intimate union of the solid and liquid elements. 

This myth also illustrates the wide difference between 
the Elder and the Younger Edda. How much purer and 
poetic in the former than in the latter ! Ex ipso fonte 
dulcius hihuntur aqucB. In the Elder Edda is water in 
which it is worth our while to fish. 


Odin is not only the inventor of poetry, he also 
favors and protects history. Saga. The Elder Edda : 

Sokvabek liiglit the fourth dwelling, 
Over it flow the cool-billows; 
Glad drink there Odin and Saga 
Every day from golden cups. 

The charming influence of history could not be more 
beautifully described. 

Sokvabek is the brook of the deep. From the deep 
arise the thoughts and roll as cool refreshing waves 
through golden words. Saga can tell, Odin can think, 
about it. Thus they sit together day after day and night 
after night and refresh their minds from the fountain of 
history. Saga is the second of the goddesses. She dwells 
at Sokvabek, a very large and stately abode. The 
stream of history is large, it is broad and deep. Saga is 
from the word meaning to say. In Greece Klio was one 
of the muses, but in Norseland Saga is alone, united 
with Odin, the father of heroic deeds. Her favor is the 
hope of the youth and the delight of the old man. 



The original meaning of the word rune is secret, 
and it was used to signify a mysterious song, mysteri- 
ous doctrine, mysterious speech, and mysterious writing. 
Our ancestors had an alpliabet called runes, before they 
learned the so-called Eoman characters. The runic stave- 
row was a futhorc (/, u, th, o, r, k), not an alphabet 
{A, B) as in Greek or Latin. But what does it mean 
mythologically, that Odin is the inventor of the runes? 
Odin himself says in his famous Eune-song in the Elder 

I know that I hung 
On a wind-rocked tree* 
Nine whole nights. 
With a spear wounded 
And to Odin offered. 
Myself to myself ; 
On that tree 
Of which no one knows 
From what root it springs. 

Bread no one gave me 
Nor a horn of drink. 
Downward I peered, 
To runes applied myself 
Wailing learnt them, 
Then fell down thence. 

Potent songs nine 

From the famed son I learned 

Of Bolthorn, Bestla's father. 

And a draught obtained 

Of the precious mead, 

Drawn from Odrcerer. 

Then I began to bear fruit 
And to know many things, 


To grow and well tlirive : 

Word by word 

I sought out words. 

Fact by fact 

I sought out facts. 

Eunes thou wilt find 

And explained characters, 

Very large characters, 

Very potent characters, 

Which the great speaker depicted 

And the high powers formed 

And the powers' prince graved. 

Odin among the asas. 
But among the elves, Daain ; 
Odin as inventor of runes 
And Dvalin for the dwarfs ; 
Aasvid for the giants runes risted. 
Some I myself risted. 

Knowest thou how to rist them ? 
Knowest thou how to expound thi ;ii ? 
Knowest thou how to depict them '! 
Knowest thou how to prove them? 
Knowest thou how to pray? 
Knowest thou how to offer? 
Knowest thou how to send ? 
Knowest thou how to consume V 

'T is better not to pray 

Than too much offer ; 

A gift ever looks to a return. 

'T is better not to send 

Than too much consume. 

So Thund risted 

Before the origin of men. 

There he ascended 

Where lie afterwards came. 

Those songs I know 

Which the king's wife knows not, 


Nor son of man. 
Help tlie first is called, 
For that will help tliee 
Against strifes and cares. 

For the second I know. 
What the sons of men require 
Who will as leeches live. 

For the third I know. 

If I have great need 

To restrain my foes. 

The weapon's edge I deaden : 

Of my adversaries 

Nor arms nor wiles harm aught. 

For the fourth I know. 

If men place 

Bonds on my limbs, 

I so sing 

That I can walk ; 

The fetter starts from my feet 

And the manacle from my hands. 

For the fifth I know, 

I see a shot from a hostile hand, 

A shaft flying amid the host, 

So swift it cannot fly, 

That I cannot arrest it, 

If only I get sight of it. 

For the sixth I know. 

If one wounds me 

With a green tree's root,* 

Also if a man 

Declares hatred to me. 

Harm shall consume them sooner than me. 

For the seventh I know. 
If a lofty house I see 

* Roots of trees were especially fitted for hurtful troUdom (witchcraft). 
They produced mortal wounds. 


Blaze o'er its inmates, 
So furiously it shall not burn 
That I cannot save it ; 
That song I can sing. 

For the eighth I know, 
What to all is 
Useful to learn ; 
Where hatred grows 
Among the sons of men — 
That I can quickly assuage. 

For the ninth I know, 

If I stand in need 

My bark on the water to save, 

I can the wind 

On the waves allay. 

And the sea lull. 

For the tenth I know. 
If I see troll-wives 
Sporting in air, 
I can so operate 
That they will forsake 
Their own forms 
And their own minds. 

For the eleventh I know. 

If I have to lead 

My ancient friends to battle. 

Under their shields I sing. 

And with power they go 

Safe to the fight, 

Safe from the fight ; 

Safe on every side they go. 

For the twelfth I know. 

If on a tree I see 

A corpse swinging from a halter, 

I can so rist 

And in runes depict, 

That the man shall walk, 

And with me converse. 



For the thirteenth I know. 

If on a young man 

I sprinkle water* 

He shall not fall, 

Though he into battle come : 

That man shall not sink before swords. 

For the fourteenth I know. 

If in the society of men 

I have to enumerate the gods, 

Asas and elves, 

I know the distinctions of all. 

This few unskilled can do. 

For the fifteenth I know. 

What the dwarf of Thodroererf sang 

Before Ceiling's doors. 

Strength he sang to the asas. 

And to the elves prosperity. 

Wisdom to Hroptatyr (Odin). 

For the sixteenth I know, 

If a modest maiden's favor and affection 

I desire to possess. 

The soul I change 

Of the white-armed damsel. 

And wholly turn her mind. 

For the seventeenth I know. 

That that young maiden will 

Reluctantly avoid me. 

These songs, Lodfafner, 

Thou wilt long have lacked ; 

Yet it may be good, if thou understandest them, 

Profitable if thou learnest them. 

For the eighteenth I know. 
That which I never teach 
To maid or wife of man, 

* The old heathen Norsemen sprinkled their children with water when 
they named them. 

+ The waker of the people. 


(All is better 

What one only knows : 

This is tlie closing of the songs) 

Save her alone 

Who clasps me in her arms, 

Or is my sister. 

Now are sung the 

Hiffh One's songs 

In the High One's hall, 

To the sons of men all useful, 

But useless to the giants' sons. 

Hail to him who has sung them ! 

Hail to him who knows them ! 

May he profit who has learnt them ! 

Hail to those who have listened to them ! 

Odin's sister or wife is, as we have seen, Frigg, the 
earth, and there is much between heaven and earth of 
which the wisest men do not even dream, much that the 
profoundest philosophy is unable to unravel, and this is 
what Odin never teaches to maid or wife of man. 

The runes of Odin were risted on the shield which 
stands before the shining god, on the ear of Aarvak (the 
ever-wakeful), and on the hoof of Alsvin ; on the wheels 
that roll under Rogner's chariot, on Sleipner's reins, on 
the paw of the bear and on the tongue of Brage ; on the 
claws of the wolf, on the beak of the eagle, on bloody- 
wings and on the end of the bridge (the rainbow) ; on 
glass, on gold, on wine and on herb ; on Vile's heart, on 
the point of Gungner (Odin's spear), on Grane's breast, 
on the nails of the norn and on the beak of the owl. 
All, that were carved, were afterwards scraped off, mixed 
with the holy mead and sent out into all parts of the 
world. Some are with the asas, some with the elves, 
and some are with the sons of men. 

All this and even more that is omitted we find in the 


Elder Edda. What are Odin's runes ? What but a new 
expression of his being? Odin's runes represent the 
might and wisdom with which he rules all nature, even 
its most secret phenomena. Odin, as master of runes, is 
^he spirit that subdues and controls physical nature. He 
governs inanimate nature, the wind, the sea, the fire, and 
the mind of man, the hate of the enemy and the love of 
woman. Everything submits to his mighty sway, and 
thus the runes were risted on all possible things in heaven 
and on earth. He is the spirit of the world, that per- 
vades everything, the almighty creator of heaven and 
earth, or, to use a more mythological expression, the 
father of gods and men. 

Odin hung nine days on the tree (Ygdrasil) and sac- 
rificed himself to himself, and wounded himself with his 
own spear. This has been interpreted to mean the nine 
months in which the child is developed in its mother's 
womb. Turn back and read the first strophes carefully, 
and it will be found that there is some sense in this inter- 
pretation ; but, kind reader, did you ever try to subdue 
and penetrate into the secrets of matter with your mind ? 
Do you know that knowledge cannot be acquired with- 
out labor, without struggle, without sacrifice, without 
solemn consecration of one's self to an idea? Do yoii 
remember that Odin gave his eye m pawn for a drink 
from Mimer's fountain ? The spear with which he now 
wounds himself shows how solemnly he consecrates 
himself. For the sake of this struggle to acquire knowl- 
edge, the spirit offers itself to itself. It knows what hard- 
ships and sufferings must be encountered on the road to 
knowledge, but it bravely faces these obstacles, it wants 
to wrestle with them ; that is its greatness, its glory, its 
power. Nine nights Odin hangs on the tree. Eome was 
not built in a day. Tantm moUs erat Rommias condere 


gentes ! Neither is knowledge acquired in a day. The 
mind is developed by a slow process. He neither eats 
nor drinks, he fasts. You must also curb your bodily 
appetites, and, like Odin, look down into the depths and 
penetrate the mysteries of nature with your mind. Then 
will you learn all those wonderful songs that Odin 
learned crying before he fell from the tree. 

Odin is the author of the runic incantations that 
played so conspicuous a part in the social and religious 
life of the Norseman. The belief in sorcery {galdr and 
sev^r) was universal among the heathen Norsemen, and 
it had its origin in the mythology, which represents the 
magic arts as an invention of Odin. 


Thus the Elder Edda, in the lay of Grimner: 

Gladsheim is named the fifth dwelling ; 

There the golden-bright 

Vallial stands spacious ; 

There Hropt* selects 

Each day those men 

Who die by weapons. 

Easily to be known is. 

By those who to Odin come, 

The mansion by its aspect. 

Its roof with spears is laid. 

Its hall with shields is decked. 

With corselets are its benches strewed. 

Easily to be known is, 

By those who to Odin come, 

The mansion by its aspect. 

A wolf hangs 

Before the western door, 

Over it an eagle hovers. 



Odin was preeminently the god of war. He who 
fell in battle came after death to Odin in Valhal. There 
he began the battle anew, fell and arose again. Glorious 
was the life in Valhal. 

The hull was called Valhal, that is, the hall of the 
slain ; Odin was called Valfather (father of the slain), 
and the maids he sent out to choose the fallen heroes 
on the field of battle were called valkyries. Valhal 
must not, as before stated, be confused with the silver- 
roofed valaskjalf. 

The heroes who came to Valhal were called einherjes, 
from ein and herja, which together mean the excellent 
warrior, and we find that Odin was also called Herja- 
father (father of heroes). 

Valhal is situated in Gladsheim. It is large and 
resplendent with gold; spears support its ceiling, it is 
roofed with shields, and coats of mail adorn its benches. 
Swords serve the purpose of fire, and of its immense size 
we can form some idea when we read in the Elder Edda 

Five hundred doors 

And forty more 

Metliinks are in Valhal ; 

Eight hundred heroes through each door 

Shall issue forth 

Against the wolf to combat. 

Outside of Valhal stands the shining grove Glaser. 
All its leaves are red gold, whence gold is frequently 
called Glaser's leaves. 

What does Odin give all his guests to eat ? If all 
the men who have fallen in fight since the beginning of 
the world are gone to Odin in Valhal, there must be a 
great crowd there. Yes, the crowd there is indeed great, 
but great though it be, it will still be thought too little 

VALHAL. 263 

when the wolf comes (the end of the world). But 
however great the band of men in Valhal may be, the 
flesh of the boar SaBhrimner will more than suffice for 
their sustenance. This boar is cooked every morning, 
but becomes whole again every night. The cook is called 
Andhrimner and the kettle Eldhrimner. Thus the Elder 

Andhrimner cooks 

In Eldlirimner 

Sselirimner ; 

'T is the best of flesh ; 

But few know 

What the eiuherjes eat. 

What do the guests of Odin drink ? Do you imagine 
that Allfather would invite kings and jarls and other 
great men and give them nothing but water to drink ? 
In that case many of those, who had endured the 
greatest hardships and received deadly wounds in order 
to obtain access to Valhal, would find that they had paid 
too great a price for their water drink, and would indeed 
have reason to complain were they there to meet with 
no better entertainment. But we shall see that the case 
is quite otherwise; for the she-goat Heidrun (the clear 
stream) stands above Valhal and feeds on the leaves of 
a very famous tree. This tree is called Lerad (affording 
protection), and from the teats of the she-goat flows 
mead in such great abundance that every day a bowl, 
large enough to hold more than would suffice for all 
the heroes, is filled with it. And still more wonderful 
is what is told of the stag, Eikthyrner (the oak-thorned, 
having knotty horns), which also stands over Valhal and 
feeds upon the leaves of the same tree, and while he is 
feeding so many drops fall from his antlers down into 
Hvergelmer that they furnish sufficient water for the 


264 VALHAL. 

thirty-six rivers that issuing thence flow twelve to the 
abodes of the gods, twelve to the abodes of men, and 
twelve to IS^iflheim. 

Ah ! our ancestors were uncultivated barbarians, and 
that is proved by the life in Valhal, where the heroes 
ate pork and drank mead! But what are we, then, who 
do the same thing ? Let us look a little more carefully 
at the words they used. Food they called flesh, and 
drink, mead, — expressions taken from life; but they 
connected an infinitely higher idea with the heavenly 
nourishment. Although but few know what the ein- 
herjes eat, we ought to know it. When we hear the 
word ambrosia, we think of a very fine nourishment, 
although we do not know what it was. In the Iliad 
(14, 170), it is used of pure water. The words used in 
the Norse mythology m reference to the food and drink 
of the gods are very simple, And-hrimner, Eld-hrimner, 
and Sae-hrimner. Hrim (rime) is the first and most 
delicate transition from a liquid to a solid; hrimner is 
the one producing this transition. The food was formed, 
as the words clearly show, by air {and, ond, aande, 
breath), by fire {eld), and by water {see, sea). We have 
. here the most delicate formation of the most delicate 
elements. There is nothing earthly in it. The funda- 
mental element is water boiled by the fire, which is 
nourished by the air ; and the drink is the clear stream, 
which flows from the highest abodes of heaven, the pure 
ethereal current, which comes from the distant regions 
where the winds are silent. Nay, we cannot even call it 
a drink, but it is the purest and most delicate breath of 
the air, that fills the lungs of the immortal heroes in 

A mighty band of men there is in Valhal, and Odin 
must indeed be a great chieftain to command such a 


numerous host; but how do the heroes pass their time 
when they are not drinking? Answer: Everyday, as 
soon as they have dressed themselves, they ride out into 
the court, and there fight until they cut each other into 
pieces. This is their pastime. But when meal-time ap- 
proaches, they remount their steeds and return to drink 
mead from the skulls of their enemies* in Valhal. Thus 
the Elder Edda: 

The einherjes all 

On Odin's plain 

Hew daily each other, 

While chosen the slain are. 

From the battle-field they ride 

And sit in peace with each other. 


As the god of war, Odin sends out his maids to choose 
the fallen heroes {kjosa val). They are called valkyries 
and valmaids {valmeyar). The valkyries serve in Valhal, 
where they bear in the drink, take care of the drinking- 
horns, and wait upon the table. Odin sends them to 
every field of battle, to make choice of those who are to 
be slain and to sway the victory. The youngest of the 
norns, Skuld, also rides forth to choose the slain and 
turn the combat. More than a dozen valkyries are 
named in the Elder Edda, and all these have reference 
to the activities of war. 

This myth about Odin as the god of war, about Val- 
hal and the valkyries, exercised a great influence upon 

* If the Noj-tJi American Review, or anybody else, thinks this is proof of 
barbarii^m. we can refer them to the monks in Trier, who preserved the skull 
of Saint Theodulf and gave sick people drink from it; and we know several 
other such instances. Our Norse ancestors were not, then, in this respect any 
more savage than the Christian bishops and monks. See iVwY/t A7nerican 
Review, January, 1875, p. 195. 



the mind and character of our ancestors. The dying 
hero knows that the valkyries have been sent after him 
to invite him home to Odin's hall, and he receives their 
message with joy and gladness. That the brave were 
to^ be taken after death to Valhal was one of the funda- 

•roental points, if not the soul, of the Norse religion.* 
The Norsemen felt in their hearts that it was absolutely 
necessary to be brave. Odin would not care for them, 
but despise and thrust them away from him, if they were 
not brave. And is there not some truth m this doctrine? 

^^it not still a preeminent duty to be brave? Is it not 
the first duty of man to subdue fear ? What can we 
accomplish until we have got rid of fear? A man is 
a slave, a coward, his very thoughts are false, until he 
has got fear under his feet. Thus we find that the 
Odinic doctrine, if we disentangle the real kernel and 
essence of it, is true even in our times. A man must 
be valiant — he must march forward and acquit himself 
like a man. How much of a man he is will be deter- 

j^iued in most cases by the completeness of his victory 
over fear. Their views of Odin, Valhal and the valky- 
ries made the Norsemen think it a shame and misery 
not to die in battle ; and if natural death seemed to be 
coming on, they would cut wounds in their flesh, 
that Odin might receive them as warriors slain. Old 
kings, about to die, had their bodies laid in a ship ; 
the ship was sent forth with sails set, and a slow fire 
burning it, so that once out at sea it might blaze up 
in flame, and in such manner bury worthily the hero 
both in the sky and in the ocean. The Norse viking 

/fought with an indomitable, rugged energy. He stood 

' in the prow of his ship, silent, with closed lips, defying 

the wild ocean with its monsters, and all men and 

* See Tliomas Carlyle's Heroes and Hero-worship. 


things. No Homer sang of these Norse warriors and 
sea-kings, but their heroic deeds and wild deaths are 
the ever-recurring theme of the skalds. 

The death of the Norse viking is beautifully de- 
scribed in the following strophe from Professor Hjalmar 
Hjorth Boyesen's poem, entitled Odin's Ravens: 

In the prow with head uplifted 

Stood the chief like wrathful Thor ; 

Through his locks the snow-flakes drifted 

Bleached their hue from gold to hoar. 

Mid the crash of mast and rafter 

Norsemen leaped through death with laughter 

Up through Valhal's wide-flung door. 

Ecgner Lodbrok thus ends his famous song, the 
Krakumal : 

Cease, my strain ! I hear a voice 
From realms where martial souls rejoice; 
I hear the maids of slaughter call, 
Who bid me hence to Odin's hall : 
High-seated in their blest abodes 
I soon shall quaff" the drink of gods. 
The hours of life have glided by, 
I fall, but smiling shall I die. 

And in the death-song of Hakon {HakonarmdT) we find 
the Valkyries Gondul and Skogul in the heat of battle : 

The god Tyr sent 
Gondul and Skogul 
To choose a king 
Of the race of Ingve, 
To dwell with Odin 
In roomy Valhal. 

The battle being described, the skiild continues: 

When lo ! Gondul, 
Pointing with her spear, 
Said to her sister, 


Soon shall increase 
Tlie band of the gods: 
To Odin's feast 
Hakon is bidden. 

The king beheld 

The beautiful maids 

Sitting on their horses 

In shining armor. 

Their shields before them. 

Solemnly thoughtful. 

The king heard 
The words of their lips. 
Saw them beckon 
With pale hands. 
And thus besjjake them: 
Mighty goddesses, 
Were we not worthy 
You should choose us 
A better doom V 

Skogul answered : 
Thy foes have fallen. 
Thy land is free, 
Thy fame is pure ; 
Now we must ride 
To greener worlds. 
To tell Odin 
That Hakon comes. 

An interpretation of the valkyries is not necessary. 
The god of war sends his tlioughts and his will to the 
carnage of the battle-field in the form of mighty armed 
women, in the same manner as he sends his ravens over 
all the earth. 

Ethically considered, then, Odin symbolizes the 
matchless hope of victory that inspired the Norsemen, 
and from which their daring exploits sprang; and we 
know that this hope of victory did not leave the hero 


when he fell bleeding on the field of battle, but followed 
him borne in valkyrian arms to Valhal, and thence he 
soared on eagle pinions to Gimle on the everlasting 




O DUST'S sons are emanatious of bis own being. As 
tbe god of war, warbke valor is one of liis servants, 
and bonor anotber. He invents tbe art of poetry, but tbe 
execution of it be leaves to bis son Brage. He does not 
meddle with tbunder, baving left tbis work of a lower 
order to bis sou Tbor. He is the father of light and 
darkness, and he leaves tbe beneficent light to diffuse 
itself and struggle with darkness independently (Balder 
and Hoder). Nor does be himself watch the rainbow, 
but lets the watchful Heimdal take care of it. 

Hermod (the valiant in combat) was tbe son of Odin 
and the messenger of the gods. Odin himself gave him 
helmet and corselet, tbe means by which to display bis 
warlike character, and he is sent on all dangerous mis- 
sions. Of bis many exploits tbe most important one is 
when be was sent on Sleipner to Hel to bring Balder 
back. It was Hermod and Brage who were sent to bid 
Hakon, tbe king, welcome, when he arrived at Valhal. 


Tyr's name is preserved in Tuesday. He is the god 
of martial honor (compare tbe German Zier). Tyr is 
the most daring and intrepid of all tbe gods. It is he 
who dispenses valor in war; hence warriors do well to 



invoke him. It lias become proverbial to say of a man 
who surpasses all others in valor, that he is Tyr-strong,^ 
or valiant as Tyr. A man noted for his wisdom is also 
said to be wise as Tyr. He gives a splendid proof of 
his intrepidity when the gods try to persuade the wolf 
Fenrer, as we shall see hereafter, to let himself be 
bound up with the chain Gleipner. The wolf fearing 
that the gods Avould never afterwards unloose him, con- 
sented to be bound only on the condition that while 
they were chaining him he should keep Tyr's hand 
between his jaws. Tyr did not hesitate to put his hand 
in the monster's mouth, but when the Fenriswolf per- 
ceived that the gods had no intention to unchain him, 
he bit the hand off at that point which has ever since 
been called the wolf's joint {I'dflr^v), the wrist. From 
that time Tyr has but one hand. 

Tyr is the son of Odin, and it is through him the 
latter, as the god of war, awakens wild courage. Thus 
he is the god of honor, and when the noble gods desire 
to tame the raging flames he naturally has to arouse all 
his courage and even sacrifice a part of himself, just as 
we frequently have to sacrifice some of our comforts to 
keep clear of rogues and scoundrels. 


Heimdal is the son of Odin, and is called the white 
god {livif/i ciss, the pure, innocent god). He is the son 
of nine virgins, who were sisters, and is a very sacred 
and powerful deity. Thus he says in the Elder Edda: 

Born was I of motliers nine. 
Son I am of sisters nine. 

He also bears the appellation of the gold-toothed, for his 
teeth were of pure gold, and the appellation Hallinskide 


{Jiallinshv6i, the owner of the vaulted arch). His horse 
is called Gulltop [goldto])), and he dwells in Himminbjorg, 
the mountains of heaven, at the end of Bifrost, the rain- 
bow. He is the warder of the gods, and is therefore 
placed on the borders of heaven to prevent the giants 
from forcing their way over the bridge. He requires less 
sleep than a bird and sees by night as well as by day a 
hundred miles around him. So acute is his ear that no . 
sound escapes him, for he can even hear the grass grow- 
ing on the earth and the wool on a sheei)'s back. He 
has a horn called Gjallar-horn, which is heard through- 
out the universe. Thus the Elder Edda, in the lay of 
Grimner : 

'Tis Himminbjorg called 
Where Heimdal tliey say- 
Hath dwelling and rule. 
There the gods' warder drinks 
In peaceful old halls 
Gladsome the good mead. 

Heimdal has a sword called Hofud (head) ; he figures 
at the death of Balder and appears in Kagnarok. Phys- 
ically interpreted, Heimdal is the god of the rainbow, 
but the brilliant rainbow most beautifully symbolizes 
the favoring grace of the gods. The rainbow itself is 
called dslril (asabridge) or Bifrost (the trembling way), 
and he who has seen a perfect rainbow can appreciate 
how this resplendent arch among all races has served 
as a symbol of peace, the bridge between heaven and 
earth, the bridge connecting the races of the earth with 
the gods. Did not God in Genesis set his bow in the 
cloud that it should be for a token of a covenant between 
him and the earth? And when our poor laboring 
masses get their taste cultivated for poetry, art, and 
mythological lore, — when they have learned to appre- 


ciate our common inheritance, — they will find that our 
Gothic history, folk-lore and mythology together form 

A link 
That binds us to the skies, 
A bridge of rainbows thrown across 
The gulf of tears and sighs.* 

In G-reece we find the goddess Iris as the imper- 
sonation of the rainbow ; while in the Bible the rainbow 
is not personified, and in no mythological system does 
the graceful divinity of the rainbow enter so prominently 
into the affairs of men as does our Heimdal. In the first 
verse of Voluspa, all mankind is called the sons of Heim- 
dal, and this thought is developed in a separate lay in 
the Elder Edda, called Eigsmiil, the lay of Eig (Heim- 
dal), to which the reader is referred. 


Brage is the son of Odin, and Idun is Brage's wife. 
Brage is celebrated for his wisdom, but more especi- 
ally for his eloquence and correct forms of speech. He 
is not only eminently skilled in poetry, but the art itself 
is from his name called Brage, which epithet is also used 
to denote a distinguished poet or poetess. Runes are 
risted on his tongue. He wears a long flowing beard, 
and persons with heavy beard are called after him, beard- 
brage {skeggiragi). His wife Idun (I^unn) keeps in a 
box the apples which the gods, when they feel old age 
approaching, have only to taste of to become young again. . 
It is in this manner they will be kept in renovated youth 
until Ragnarok. This is a great treasure committed to 
the guardianship and good faith of Idun, and it shall be 
related how great a risk the gods once ran. 

* Barry Cornwall. 


At the feast after the death of a king or jarl, it was 
customary among the Norsemen for the heir to occupy 
a lower bench in front of the chief seat, until Bruge's 
bowl was brought in. Then he arose, made a pledge, 
and drank the cup of Brage. After that he was con- 
ducted into the seat of his father. 

At the sacrificial feasts of the Norsemen, the con- 
ductor of the sacrifice consecrated the drinking-horns as 
well as the sacrificed food. The guests first drank Odin's 
horn, for the victory and rule of the king; next they 
drank Njord's and Frey's horns, for prosperous seasons 
and for peace ; and then many were accustomed to drink 
a horn to Brage, the god of poetry. A characteristic 
ceremony in connection with this horn was, that when 
the bowl was raised, the promise of performing some 
great deed was made, which might furnish material for 
the songs of the skalds. This makes the character of 
Brage perfectly clear. 

Idun's name is derived from the root i^, and ex- 
presses a constant activity and renovation, which idea- 
becomes more firmly established by the following myth, 


jEger, the god of the sea, who Avas well skilled in 
magic, once went to Asgard, where the gods gave him a 
very good reception. Supper-time having come, the 
twelve mighty gods, together with the goddesses Frigg, 
Freyja, Gefjun, Idun, Gerd, Sigun, Fulla, and Nanna, 
seated themselves on their lofty doom seats, in a hall 
around which were arranged swords of such surpassing 
brilliancy that no other light was necessary. While they 
were emptying their capacious drinking-horns, ^ger, 
who sat next to Brage, requested him to relate something 
concerning the asas. Brage instantly complied with his 


request by informing him of what had happened to 

Once, he said, when Odin, Loke and Keener went 
on a journey, they came to a valley where a herd of 
oxen were grazing, and, being sadly in want of pro- 
visions, did not scruple to kill one for their supper. 
Vain, however, were their eflforts to boil the flesh; 
they found it, every time they took the lid off the kettle, 
as raw as when first put in. While they were endeavor- 
ing to account for this singular circumstance a noise 
was heard above them, and on looking up they beheld 
an enormous eagle perched on the branch of an oak 
tree. If you are willing to let me have my share of the 
flesh, said the eagle, it shall soon be boiled. And on 
assenting to this proposal it flew down and snatched up 
a leg and two shoulders of the ox — a proceeding which 
so incensed Loke that he picked up a large pole and 
made it fall pretty heavily on the eagle's back. It was, 
however, not an eagle that Loke struck, but the renowned 
giant Thjasse, clad in his eagle-plumage. Loke soon 
found this out to his sorrow, for while one end of the 
pole stuck fast to the eagle's back, he was unable to let 
go his hold of the other end, and was consequently trailed 
by the eagle-clad giant over rocks and forests until he was 
almost torn to pieces, and he thought his arms would 
be pulled off at the shoulders. Loke in this predica- 
ment began to sue for peace, but Thjasse told him that 
he should never be released from his hold until he 
bound himself by a solemn oath to bring Idun and her 
apples out of Asgard. Loke very willingly gave his 
oath to bring about this, and went back in a piteous 
plight to his companions. 

On his return to Asgard, Loke told Idun that in a 
forest not very far from the celestial residence he had 


found apples growing, which he thought were of a much 
better quality than her own, and that at all events it 
was worth while to make a comparison between them. 
Idun, deceived by his words, took her apples and went 
with him into the forest, but they had no sooner entered 
it than Thjasse, clad in his eagle-plumage, flew rapidly 
toward them, and, catching uj) Idun, carried her and 
her treasure off with him to Jotunheim. The gods 
being thus dejirived of their renovating apples, soon 
became wrinkled and gray , old age was creeping fast 
upon them when they discovered that Loke had been, 
as usual, the contriver of all the mischief that had 
befallen them. Inquiry was made about Idun in the 
assembly which was called, and the last anybody knew 
about her was that she had been seen going out of 
Asgard in company witli Loke. They therefore threat- 
ened him with torture and death if he did not instantly 
hit upon some expedient for bringing back Idun and 
her apples to Asgard. This threat terrified Loke, and 
he promised to bring her back from Jotunheim if 
Freyja would lend him her falcon-plumage. He got the 
falcon -plumage of Freyja, flew in it to Jotunheim, and 
finding that Thjasse Avas out at sea fishing, he lost no 
time in transforming Idun into a nut and flying off 
with her in his claws. But when Thjasse returned and 
became aware of what had happened, he put on his 
eagle-plumage and flew after them. When the gods saw 
Loke approach, holding Idun changed into a nut between 
his claws, and Thjasse with his outspread eagle-wings 
ready to overtake him, they placed on the walls of Asgard 
bundles of chips, which they set fire to the instant Loke 
had flown over them ; and as Thjasse could not stop 
his flight, the fire caught his plumage, and he thus fell 
into the power of the gods, who slew him within the 
portals of the celestial residence. 


When these tidings came to Thjasse's daughter, Skade 
{Sl:a^i, German Schade, harm), she put on her armor and 
went to Asgard, fully determined to avenge her father's 
death ; but the gods having declared their willingness to 
atone for the deed, an amicable arrangement was entered 
into. Skade was to choose a husband in Asgard, and 
the gods were to make her laugh, a feat which she flat- 
tered herself it would be impossible for any one to accom- 
plish. Her choice of a husband was to be determined 
by a mere inspection of the feet of the gods, it being 
stipulated that the feet should be the only part of their 
persons visible until she had made known her determi- 
nation. In inspecting the row of feet placed before her, 
Skade took a fancy to a pair which from their fine pro- 
portions she thought certainly must be those of Balder. 
I choose these, she said, for on Balder there is nothing 
unseemly. The feet were however Njord's, and Njord 
was given her for a husband ; and as Loke managed to 
make her laugh by playing some diverting antics with 
a goat, the atonement was fully effected. It is even said 
that Odin did more than had been stipulated, by taking 
out Thjasse's eyes and placing them to shine as stars in 
the firmament. 

This myth, interpreted by the visible workings of 
nature, means that Idun (the ever-renovating spring) 
being in the possession of Thjasse (the desolating win- 
ter), all the gods — that is, all nature — languishes until 
she is delivered from her captivity. On this being 
eflfected, her presence again diffuses joy and gladness, 
and all things revive ; while her pursuer, winter, with 
his icy breath, dissolves in the solar rays indicated by 
the fires lighted on the walls of Asgard. The wintry 
blasts rage so fearfully in the flames, that the flesh cannot 
be boiled, and the wind even carries a burning (Loke) 


stick with it. The ethical interpretation will suggest 
itself to every reader, and Idun is to Brage, who sings 
among the trees and by the musical brooks of spring, 
what a poetical contemplation of the busy forces of 
nature in producing blossoms and ripening fruit must 
always be to every son of Brage. 




BALDER is the favorite of all nature, of all the gods 
and of men. He is son of Odin and Frigg, and 
it may be truly said of him that he is the best god, and 
that all mankind are loud in his praise. So fair and 
dazzling is he in-^rm and features, that rays of light 
seem to issue from liim ; and we may form some idea 
of the beauty of his hair when we know that the whitest 
of all plants is called KaUUr's hro2v.* Balder is the 
mildest, the wisest and the most eloquent of all the gods, 
yet such is his nature that the judgment he has pro- 
nounced can never be altered. He dwells in the heavenly 
mansion called Breidablik (the broad-shining splendor), 
into which nothing unclean can enter. Thus the Elder 
Edda, in the lay of Grimner: 

Breidablik is the seventh. 
Where Balder has 
Built for himself a hall, 
In that land 
In which I know exists 
The fewest crimes. 

* The anthemis cotula is generally called Baldersbraa in the North. 




This was an event which the asas deemed of great 
importance. Balder the Good having been tormented by 
terrible dreams, indicating that his life was in great peril, 
communicated them to the assembled gods, who, sorrow- 
stricken, resolved to conjure all things to avert from him 
the threatened danger. Then Frigg exacted an oath 
from fire and water, from iron and all other metals, as 
well as from stones, earths, diseases, beasts, birds, poisons,^ 
and creeping things, that none of them would do any 
harm to Balder. Still Odin feared that the prosperity of 
the gods had vanished. He saddled his Sleipner and 
rode down to Niflheim, where the dog from Hel met 
him ; it was bloody on the breast and barked a long time 
at Odin. Odin advanced; the earth trembled beneath 
him, and he came to the high dwelling of Hel. East of 
the door he knew the grave of the vala was situated ; 
thither he rode and sang magic songs (Jcva^ galdrci)y 
until she unwillingly stood up and asked Avho disturbed 
her peace, after she had been lying so long covered with 
snow and wet with dew. Odin called liimself Vegtam, a. 
son of Valtam, and asked for Avhom the benches were 
strewn with rings and the couches were swimming in gold. 
She replied that the mead was brewed for Balder, but all 
the gods would despair. When Odin asked further who 
should be Balder's bane, she answered that Hoder would 
hurl the famous branch and become the bane of Odin's 
son ; but Rind should give birth to a son who, only one 
night old, should wield a sword, and would neither wash 
his hands nor comb his hair before he had avenged his 
brother. But recognizing Odin by an enigmatical ques- 
tion, she said : You are not Vegtam, as I believed, but 
you are Odin, the old ruler. Odin replied : You are no- 


vala, but the mother of three giants. Then the vala 
told Odin to ride home and boast of his journey, but 
assured him that no one should again visit her thus be- 
fore Loke should be loosed from his chains and the ruin 
of the gods had come. Thus the lay of Vegtam in the 
Elder Edda: 

Together were the gods 

All in council. 

And the goddesses 

All in conference ; 

And they consulted 

The mighty gods, 

Why Balder had 

Oppressive dreams. 

To that god his slumber 
Was most afflicting; 
His auspicious dreams 
Seemed departed. 
They the giants questioned. 
Wise seers of the future, 
Whether this might not 
Forebode calamity. 

The responses said 

That to death destined was 

Uller's kinsman, 

Of all the dearest: 

That cavised grief 

To Frigg and Svafner, 

And to the other powers, — 

On a course they resolved : 

That they would send 
To every being. 
Assurance to solicit, 
Balder not to harm. 
All species swore 
Oaths to spare him : 
Frigg received all 
Their vows and compacts. 


Valfather fears 
Something defective ; 
He thinks the haminjes* 
May have departed ; 
The gods he convenes, 
Their counsel craves ; 
At the deliberation 
Much is devised. 

Up stood Odin, 
Lord of men, 
And on Sleipuer he 
The saddle laid ; 
Rode he thence down 
To Niflheim. 
A dog he met, 
From Hel coming. 

It was blood-stained 

On its breast. 

On its slaughter-craving throat, 

And nether jaw. 

It barked 

And widely gaped 

At the father of magic song: 

Long it howled. 

Forth rode Odin — 
The ground thundered — 
Till to Hel's lofty 
House he came ; 
Then rode Ygg (Odin) 
To the eastern gate, 
Where he knew there was 
A vala's grave. 

To the prophetess he began 
A magic song to chant, 
Toward the north looked. 
Potent runes applied, 

Guardian spirits. 


A spell pronounced, 

An answer demanded. 

Until compelled she rose 

And with, death-like voice she said: 

THK vala: 
What man is this, 
To me unknown, 
Who has for me increased 
An irksome course? 
I have with snow been decked. 
By rain beaten, 
And with dew moistened, — 
Long have I been dead. 

Vegtam is my name, 
I am Valtam's son. 
Tell thou me of Hel ; 
From earth I call on thee. 
For whom are these benches 
Strewed o'er with rings, — 
Those costly couches 
O'erlaid with gold? 

THE vala: 
Here stands mead 
For Balder brewed, 
Over the bright drink 
A shield is laid ; 
But the race of gods 
Is in despair. 

By compulsion I have spoken. 
Now will I be silent. 


Be not silent, vala ! 
I will question thee 
Until all I know : 
I will yet know 
Who will Balder's 
Slayer be, 


And Odiu's son 
Of life bereave. 


Hoder will hither 

His glorious brother send; 

He of Balder will 

The slayer be, 

And Odin's son 

Of life bereave. 

By compulsion I have spoken. 

Now will I be pilent. 

Be not silent, vala ! 
I will question thee 
Until all I know : 
I will yet know 
Who on Hoder vengeance 
Will inflict, 
Or Balder's slayer 
Raise on the pile. 


Rind a son shall bear 

In the wintry halls ; 

He shall slay Odin's son. 

When one night old. 

He a hand will not wash, 

Nor his hair comb, 

Ere to the pile he has borne 

Balder's adversary. 

By compulsion I have spoken, 

Now will I be silent. 

Be not silent, vala ! 
I will question thee 
Until all I know : 
I will yet know 
Who are the maids 
That weep at will 


And heavenward cast 

Their neck-veils. 

Tell me that; 

Till then thou sleepest not. 

Not Vegtam art thou, 
As I before believed ; 
Rather art thou Odin, 
Lord of men. 

Thou art no vala. 
Nor wise woman ; 
Rather art thou the mother 
Of three thurses (giants). 


Home ride thou, Odin ! 
And exult. 

Thus shall never more 
Man again visit me 
Until Loke free 
From his bonds escapes, 
And Ragnarok 
All-destroying comes. 

When it had been made known that nothing in the 
world would harm Balder, it became a favorite pastime 
of the gods, at their meetings, to get Balder to stand up 
and serve them as a mark, some hurling darts at him, 
some stones, while others hewed at him with their swords 
and battle-axes; for whatever they did none of them 
could harm him, and this Avas regarded by all as a great 
honor shown to Balder. But when Loke Laufeyarson 
beheld the scene he was sorely vexed that Balder was 
not hurt. Assuming, therefore, the guise of a woman 
he went to Fensal, the mansion of Frigg. That goddess, 
seeing the pretended woman, inquired of her whether 
she knew what the gods were doing at their meetings. 


The woman (Loke) replied that they were throwing 
darts and stones at Balder, without being able to hurt 

Ay, said Frigg, neither metal nor wood can hurt 
Balder, for I have exacted an oath from all of them. 

What! exclaimed the woman, have all things sworn 
to spare Balder? 

All things, replied Frigg, except one little shrub that 
grows on the eastern side of Vallial, and is called mistle- 
toe, and which I thought too young and feeble to crave 
an oath from. 

As soon as Loke heard this he went away, and, 
resuming his natural form, pulled up the mistletoe and 
repaired to the place where the gods were assembled. 
There he found Hoder standing far to one side without 
engaging in the sport, on account of his blindness, 
Loke going up to him said : Why do not you also throw 
something at Balder? 

Because I am blind, answered Hoder, and cannot see 
where Balder is, and besides I have nothing to throw 

Come then, said Loke, do like the rest, and show 
honor to Balder by throwing this twig at him, and I will 
direct your arm toward the place where he stands. 

Hoder then took the mistletoe, and under the guid- 
ance of Loke darted it at Balder, who, pierced through 
and through, fell down lifeless. Surely never was there 
witnessed, either among gods or men, a more atrocious 
deed than this ! When Balder fell the gods were struck 
speechless with horror, and then they looked at each 
other; and all were of one mind to lay hands on him 
who had done the deed, but they were obliged to delay 
their vengeance out of respect for the sacred place (place 
of peace) where they were assembled. They at length 


gave vent to their grief by such loud lamentations that 
they were not able to express their grief to one another. 
Odin, however, felt this misfortune most severely, because 
he knew best how. great was the mischief and the loss 
which the gods had sustained by the death of Balder. 
When the gods were a little composed, Frigg asked who 
among them wished to gain all her love and favor by 
riding to the lower world to try and find Balder, and 
offer a ransom to Hel if she will permit Balder to return 
to Asgard; whereupon Hermod, surnamed the Nimble, 
offered to undertake the journey. Odin's horse, Sleipner, 
was then led forth and prepared for the journey; Hermod 
mounted him and galloped hastily away. 

The gods then took the dead body of Balder and 
carried it to the sea, where lay Balder's ship, Riughorn, 
which was the largest of all ships. But when they 
wanted to launch this ship, in order to make Balder's 
funeral pile on it, tliey were unable to move it from the 
place. In this predicament they sent a messenger to 
Jotunheim for a certain giantess named Hyrroken (the 
smoking fire), who came riding on a wolf and had 
twisted serpents for her reins. As soon as she alighted 
Odin ordered four berserks to hold her steed, bat they 
were obliged to throw the animal down on the ground 
before they could manage it. Hyrroken then went to 
the prow of the ship, and with a single push set it 
afloat; but the motion was so violent that fire sparkled 
from the underlaid rollers and the whole earth shook. 
Thor, enraged at the sight, grasped his mallet and would 
have broken the woman's skull, had not the gods inter- 
ceded for her. Balder's body was then carried to the 
funeral pile on board the ship, and this ceremony had 
such an effect upon Balder's wife, Nanna, daughter of 


Nep, that her heart broke with grief, and her body was 
laid upon the same pile aud burned with that of her 
husband. Thor stood beside the pile and consecrated it 
with his hammer Mjolner. Before his feet sprang up a 
dwarf called Lit. Thor kicked him with his foot into 
the fire, so that he also was burned. There was a vast 
concourse of various kinds of people at Balder's funeral 
procession. First of all came Odin, accompanied by 
Frigg, the valkyries, and his ravens. Then came Frey 
in his chariot, drawn by the boar Gullinburste (gold- 
brush), or Slidrugtanne (the sharp-toothed). Heimdal 
rode his horse Gold top, and Freyja drove in her chariot 
drawn by cats. There were also a great number of 
frost-giants and mountain-giants present. Odin cast 
upon the funeral pile the famous ring Draupner, which 
had been made for him by the dwarfs, and possessed the 
property of producing every ninth night eight rings of 
equal weight. Balder's horse, fully caparisoned, was 
also laid upon the pile, and consumed in the same flames 
with the body of his master. 

Meanwhile Hermod was proceeding on his mission. 
Of him it is to be related that he rode nine days and as 
many nights through dark and deep valleys, so dark 
that he could not discern anything, until he came to the 
river Gjol and passed over the Gjallar bridge (bridge 
over the river Gjol), which is covered with glittering 
gold. Modgud, the maiden who kept the bridge, asked 
him his name and parentage, and added that the day 
before five fylkes (kingdoms, bands) of dead men had 
ridden over the bridge ; but, she said, it did not shake 
as much beneath all of them together as it does under 
you alone, and you have not the complexion of the dead ; 
why then do you ride here on your way to Hel ? I ride 
to Hel, answered Hermod, to seek for Balder ; have you 


perchance seen him pass this way? She replied that 
Balder had ridden over the Gjallar bridge, and that the 
road to the abodes of death (to Hel) lay downward and 
toward the north. 

Hermod then continued his journey until he came 
to the barred gates of Hel. Then he alighted from his 
horse, drew the girths tighter, remounted him and 
clapped both spurs into him. The horse cleared the gate 
with a tremendous leap without touching it. Hermod 
then rode forward to the palace, alighted and went in, 
where he found his brother Balder occupying the most 
distinguished seat in the hall, and spent the night in his 
company. The next morning he entreated Hel (death) 
to let Balder ride home with him, representing to her 
the sorrow which prevailed among the gods. Hel replied 
that it should now be tried whether Balder was so 
nniversally beloved as he was said to be; if therefore, 
she added, all things in the world, the living as well as 
the lifeless, will weep for him, then he shall return to 
the gods, but if anything speak against him or refuse 
to weep, then Hel will keep him. 

After this Hermod rose up, Balder went with him 
out of the hall and gave him the ring Draupner, to 
present as a keepsake to Odin. Nanna sent Frigg a 
carpet together with several other gifts, and to Fulla 
she sent a gold finger-ring. Hermod then rode back to 
Asgard and related everything that he had heard and 

The gods upon this dispatched messengers through- 
out all the world to beseech everything to weep, in 
order that Balder might be delivered from the power of 
Hel. All things very willingly complied with the re- 
quest, — men, animals, the earth, stones, trees, and all 
metals, just as we see things weep when they come out 


of the frost into the warm air. When the messengers 
were returning, with the conviction that their mission 
had been quite successful, they found on their way 
home a giantess (ogress, Icel. gygr), who called herself 
Thok. They bade her also weep Balder out of the do- 
minion of Hel. But she answered: 

Tliok will weep 

With dry tears * 

For Balder's death ; 

Neither in life nor in death 

Gave he me gladness. 

Let Hel keep what she has. 

It is supposed that this giantess {gygr) was no other 
than Loke Laufeyarson himself, who had caused the gods 
so many other troubles. Thus the Elder Edda refers to 
the death of Balder in Voluspa: 

I saw the concealed 

Fate of Balder, 

The blood-stained god, 

The son of Odin. 

In the fields 

There stood grown up. 

Slender and passing fair. 

The mistletoe. 

From that shrub was made, 
As to me it seemed, 
A deadly noxious dart ; 
Hoder shot it forth ; 
But Frigg bewailed 
In Fensal 
Valhal's calamity. 
Understand ye yet, or what? 

To conquer Vafthrudner, and to reveal himself, Odin asks 
him to solve this last problem: 

* The sparks of fire are dry tears. 


What said Odin 
la his son's ear, 
Ere he on the pile was laid ? 

This is the question that Yafthriidner was unable to 
answer, and hence he had to forfeit his head. N. M. 
Petersen thinks that Odin whispered into Balder's ear 
the name of the supreme god. 

This myth about the death of Balder finds an apt 
explanation in the seasons of the year, in the change 
from light to darkness, in Norseland. Balder represents 
the bright and clear summer, when twilight and day- 
break kiss each other and go liand in hand in these 
northern latitudes. His death by Hoder is the victory 
of darkness over light, the darkness of winter over the 
light of summer, and the revenge by Vale is the break- 
ing forth of new light after the wintry darkness. 

In this connection it is also worthy of notice that 
there used to be a custom, which is now nearly forgotten, 
of celebrating the banishment of death or darkness, the 
strife between winter and summer, together with the ar- 
rival of the May-king and election of the May-queen. 
Forgotten! yes, well may we ask how it could come to 
pass that we through long centuries have worried and 
tortured ourselves with every scrap of Greek and Latin 
we could find, without caring the least for our own 
beautiful and profound memories of the past. Death 
was carried out in the image of a tree and thrown in 
the water or burned. In the spring two men represent 
summer and winter, the one clad in wintergreen or 
leaves, the other in straw. They have a large company / . 
of attendants with them, armed with staves, and they/^ 
fight with each other until winter (or death) is subdued. 
They prick his eyes out or throw him into the water. 
These customs, which prevailed throughout the middle 


ages, had their root and origin in the ancient myth 
given above. 

No myth can be clearer than tliis one of Balder. 
The Younger Edda says distinctly that he is so fair 
and dazzling in form and features that rays of light 
seem to issue from him. Balder, then, is the god of 
light, the light of tlie world. Light is the best thing 
we have in the world ; it is white and pure ; it can- 
not be wounded; no shock can disturb it; nothing in 
the Avorld can kill it excepting its own negative, dark- 
ness (Hoder). Loke (fire) is jealous of it; the pure 
light of heaven and the blaze of fire are each other's 
eternal enemies. Balder does not fight, the mythology 
gives no exploits by him; he only shines and dazzles, 
conferring blessings upon all, and this he continues to 
do steadfast and unchangeable, until darkness steals 
upon him, darkness that does not itself know what 
harm it is doing; and when Balder is dead, cries of 
lamentation are heard throughout all nature. All na- 
ture seeks light. Does not the eye of the child seek 
the light of the morning, and does not the child weep 
when light vanishes, when night sets in ? Does not 
this myth of Balder repeat itself in the old man, who 
like Goethe, when death darkened his eyes, cried out: 
7nehr liclit (more light) ? Does not the eagle from the 
loftiest pinnacle of the mountain seek light? The 
lark soars on his lofty pinions and greets in warbling 
notes the king of day welcome back into his kingdom. 
The tree firmly rooted in the ground strains toward the 
light, spreading upward in search of it. The bird of 
passage on his free wing flies after and follows the light. 
Is it not the longing after light that draws the bird 
southward in the fall when the days shorten in the 
north, and draws the little wanderer back ao^ain as 


soon as the long northern days set in with all their 
luminous and long-drawn hours ? As Runeberg epi- 
grammatically has it: 

The bird of passage is of uoble birtli ; 
He bears a motto, and bis motto is, 
Lux mea dux. Light is my leader. 

Nay all living things, even the shells in the sea, 
every leaf of the oak and every blade of grass, seeks 
light, and the blind poet sings: 

Hail, holy light ! offspring of heaven first born ! 
He that hath liglit within his own clear breast 
May sit in the center and enjoy bright day; 
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts 
Benighted walks under the midday sun* 

And another bard: 

Light down from heaven descends. 
Ether pure in flowing bowls ; 
Light up to heaven ascends, 
A mediator for our souls. 

Ay, it would be resting satisfied with the shell to inter- 
pret Balder as the mere impersonation of the natural 
light of heaven. He represents and symbolizes in the 
profoundest sense the heavenly light of the soul and of 
the mind, purity, innocence, piety. There can be no 
doubt that our ancestors combined the ethical with the 
physical in this myth. All light comes from heaven. 
The natural light shines into and illuminates the eye, 
the spiritual shines into and illuminates the heart. 
Innocence cannot be wounded. Arrogance and jealousy 
throw their pointed arrows of slander at it, but they fall 
harmless to the ground. But there is one inclination, 
one unguarded spot among our other strong guarded 
passions. The mischief-maker knows how to find this 
and innocence is pierced. When Balder dies, a dark veil 



enshrouds all nature, and thus history clothes herself in 
mourning, not because the hero dies, but because the 
innocent Lincoln is pierced by the bullet of the foul 
assassin, who turns to the night and flees. Every time 
light is slain by darkness it is the beautiful and good 
that is stricken down , but it is never stricken down 
except to return and shine with increased splendor. 
Balder dies in nature when the woods are stripped of 
their foliage, when the flowers fade and the storms of 
winter howl. Balder dies in the spiritual world when 
the good ai'e led away from the paths of virtue, when the 
soul becomes dark and gloomy, forgetting its heavenly 
origin. Balder returns in nature when the gentle winds 
of spring stir the air, when the niglitingale's high note 
is heard in the heavens, and the flowers are unlocked to 
paint the laughing soil, wlien light takes the place of 
gloom and darkness; Balder returns in the sjDiritual 
world when the lost soul finds itself again j throws off 
the mantle of darkness, and like a shining spirit soars 
on wings of light to heaven, to Grod, who gave it. 

The flower which is sacred to Balder, the Balder's 
brow, IS the anthem is cotula. It is a complete flower 
with a yellow disc and white rays, a symbol of the sun 
with its beaming light, a sunflower. What a poetical 
thought! The light pouring down upon the earth from 
beneath Balder's eye-brows, and the hairs of his eye-lids 
are the beams. What a theme for a Correggio, who 
succeeded so well m painting the innocence of woman 
beaming from her half-closed eyes! 

Balder's wife is Nanna. She dies broken-hearted a^ 
his death. She is the floral goddess who always turns 
her smiling face toward the sun. Her father was Nep 
(nepr, a bud), son of Odin. Nanna's and Balder's send- 
ing the ring Draupner to Odin, a carpet to Frigg, and 


a ring to Fulla, has been explained heretofore, and how 
beautifully it symbolizes the return of earth's flowery 
carpet, with fruitfulness and abundance, will be evident 
to every thoughtful reader. 

The sorrow of all nature we easily understand when 
we know that Loke rejD resents fire and Balder is gone to 
Hel. All things weep, become damp, when brought from 
the cold to the warm air, excepting fire, and we remember 
that Thok, that is, Loke in disguise, wept dry tears 
(sparks) ; but all genuine tears are caused by a change 
of the heart from coldness to warmth. It is a common 
expression in Iceland yet to say that the stones, when 
covered with dew, weep for Balder {grata Baldr). Bal- 
der's ship, Ringhorn, is rightly called the largest of all 
ships. Ringhorn is the whole world, and the whole earth 
is Balder's funeral pile. The tops of the mountains are 
the masts of this ship, which is round (ring) as the 
whirling world. 

It is time we ceased talking about our barbarous 
ancestors, for, if we rightly comprehend this myth of 
Balder, we know that they appreciated, nay, profoundly 
and poetically appreciated, the light that fills the eye 
and blesses the heart, and were sensitive to the pain that 
cuts through the bosom of man even into its finest and 
most delicate fibers. In this myth of Balder is inter- 
woven the most delicate feelings with the sublimest 
sentiments. Read it and comprehend it. Let the ear 
and heart and soul be open to the voiceless music that 
breathes through it. And when you have thus read 
this myth, in connection with the other myths and in 
connection with the best Sagas, then do not say another 
word about the North not having any literature! Thanks 
be to the norns, that the monks and priests, whose most 
zealous work it was to root out the memories of the 


past and reduce the gods of our fathers to common- 
place demons, did not succeed in their devastating mis- 
sion in faithful Iceland ! Thanks be to Shakespeare, that 
he did not forget the stern, majestic, impartial and 
beautiful norns, even though he did cliange them into 
the wrinkled witches that figure in Macbeth! Nay, that 
this our ancient mythology, in spite of the wintry blasts 
that have swept over it, in spite of the piercing cold 
to which it has been exposed at the hand of those who 
thought they came with healing for the nations, in 
spite of all the persecution it has suffered from monks 
and bishops, professors and kings; that it, in spite of all 
these, has been able to bud and blossom in our Teutonic 
folk-lore, our May-queens, and popular life, is proof of 
the strong vital force it contained, and proof, too, of the 
vigorous thought of our forefathers who preserved it. 
And nowhere is this more evident than in Norway. 
These stories which have their root in the Norse my- 
thology have been handed down by word of mouth from 
generation to generation with remarkable fidelity. Look 
at those long and narrow and deep valleys of Norway! 
Those great clefts are deep furrows plowed m the mount- 
ain mass in order that it might yield a bountiful crop 
of folk-lore, the seed of which is the Edda mythology. 
Let us give our children a share m the harvest! 


Forsete is the son of Balder and Nanna. He possesses 
the heavenly mansion called Glitner, and all disjjutants 
at law who bring their cases before him go away perfectly 
reconciled. His tribunal is the best that is to be found 
among gods and men. Thus the Elder Edda, in the 
lay of Grimner : 


Qlitner is the tenth mansion ; 
It is on gold sustained, 
And also with silver decked. 
There Forsete dwells 
Throughout all time, 
And every strife allays. 

Forsete means simply president. The island Hel- 
goland was formerly called Forseteland. Justice was 
dealt out in Norseland during the bright season of the 
year, and only while the sun was up, in the open air, 
in the flowering lap of nature. The sanctity of the 
assembly and purity of justice is expressed by the 
golden columns and the silver roof of Glitner. The 
splendor of Balder shone upon his son. 




THOR {]>6rr, puiiarr, Anglo-Saxon ])unor, German 
domier, thunder), after whom Thursday is named 
(Thor's-day), is the chief god next after Odin. He is 
a spring god, subduing the frost-giants. 

Thor wears a red beard, his nature is fire, he is 
girded with the belt of strength, swings a hammer in 
his hand, rides in a chariot drawn by two goats, from 
whose hoofs and teeth sparks of fire flash, and the 
scarlet cloud reflects his fiery eyes, over his head he 
wears a crown of stars, under his feet rests the earth, 
and it shows the footprints of his mighty steps. He 
is called Asathor and also Akethor (from aJca, to ride), 
and is the strongest of gods and men. He is enor- 
mously strong and terrible when angry, but, as is so 
frequently the case with very strong men, his great 
strength is coupled with a thoroughly inoffensive good- 
nature. His realm is named Thrudvang and his man- 
sion Bilskirner, in Avhich are five hundred and forty 
halls. It is the largest house ever built. Thus the 
Elder Edda, in the lay of Grimner: 

Five hundred halls 
And forty more 
Methiuks has 
Bowed Bilskirner ; 


THOR. 299 

Of houses roofed 
There is none I know 
My son's* surpassing. 

Thor's chariot is drawn by two goats, called Taimgu- 
jost and Tanngrisner. It is from his driving about in 
this chariot he is called Akethor (charioteer-Thor). He 
possesses three very precious articles. The first is a 
mallet called Mjolner, which both the frost and mount- 
ain giants know to their cost, when they see it hurled 
against them in the air; and no wonder, for it has split 
many a skull of their fathers and kindred. The second 
rare thing he possesses is called the belt of strength or 
prowess (Megingjarder). When he girds it about him 
his divine strength is redoubled. The third precious 
article which he possesses is his iron gauntlet, which he 
is obliged to put on whenever he lays hold on the handle 
of his mallet. No one is so wise as to be able to 
relate all Thor's marvelous exploits. 

Now the reader will easily comprehend the follow- 
ing beautiful strophes from the pen of Longfellow,f who 
has so ingeniously sprinkled his literature with dews 
from Ygdrasil: 

I am the god Thor, 

I am the war god, 

I am the Thunderei' ! 

Here in my Northland, 

My fastness and fortress. 

Reign I forever! 

Here amid icebergs 
Rule I the nations ; 
This is my hammer, 
Mjolner, the mighty 
Giants and sorcerers 
Cannot withstand it ! 

* Thor's. t From Tale>i of a Wayside In7i. 

300 THOE. 

These are the gauntlets 
Wherewith I wield it 
And hurl it afar off; 
This is my girdle. 
Whenever I brace it 
Strengtli is redoubled ! 

The light thou beholdest 
Stream through the heavens, 
In flashes of crimson. 
Is but my red beard 
Blown by the night-wind. 
Affrighting the nations. 
Jove is my brother ; 
Mine eyes are the lightning; 
The wheels of my chariot 
Roll in the thunder. 
The blows of my hammer 
Ring in the earthquake ! 
Force rules the world still, 
Has ruled it, shall rule it ; 
Meekness is weakness. 
Strength is triumphant ; 
Over the whole earth 
Still is Thor's-day ! 

Thor is the father of Magne, whose mother is Jarn- 
saxa, and of Mode. He is the husband of Sif and step- 
father of Uller; he is the protector of Asgard and Mid- 
gard, and is frequently called Midgardsveor ; his servants 
are Thjalfe, and the sister of the latter, Roskva. Among 
Thor's several names the most common ones are Ving- 
thor, Vingner, and Hlorride. All this of course has ref- 
erence to him as the god of thunder. Thor, as has 
been observed, is Jninarr, thunder. Thrudvang, his realm, 
is the heavy compact cloud, where he reigns; his man- 
sion, Bilskirner (bil-skirnir), are the flashes of light- 
ning that for a moment (bil*) light up the heavens; 

* Bil is a common word in Norseland, meaning moment. 


his goats, Tanngnjost (teeth-gnasher) and Tanngrisner 
(fire-flasliing teeth), symbolize the flashes of lightning, 
and so does also his red beard. Mjolner, his hammer, 
is the crusher (com]3are the English word mill*); his 
belt, Megingjarder, is the girdle of strength ; his sons, 
Magne and Mode, symbolize strength and courage. 
Vingthor is the flying thunderstorm and Hlorride is he 
who rides in the flaming chariot. His servant Thjalfe 
is the busy one, and Koskva is the rapid or nimble one. 
That Thor is the god of thunder is also most clearly 
shown in the Younger Edda, where it is related that 
Thor goes on foot and is obliged every day to wade the 
rivers Kormt and Ormt, and two others called Kerlaung, 
when he goes to sit in judgment with the other gods at 
the Urdar-fount, and cannot ride, as do the other gods. 
If he did not walk as he goes to the doomstead under 
the ash Ygdrasil, the Asabridge would be in flames 
and the holy waters would become boiling hot, that is, 
if Thor should drive over Bifrost in his thunder-chariot. 

Thor's wife, Sif, is another symbol of the earth. 
She is called the fair-haired. Gold is called Sif's hair 
on account of the myth already related, according to 
which Loke cuts off her hair and gets dwarfs to foi'ge 
for her golden locks. The interpreters of mythology 
are not willing to give to Sif the field waving Avith 
ripe grain, which belongs to the god Frey, being sym- 
bolized by his boar Goldenbristle, but say that Sif is 
the mountain clad with grass, in contradistinction to 
Jarnsaxa, who reigns in the barren deserts. Hrungner, 
that is, the naked rock, tried to win the favor of Sif, 
but did not succeed. 

Uller is the son of Sif and the step-son of Thor. 
He is so well skilled in the use of the bow, and can go 

* But see also Vocabulary, under the word Mjolner. 


SO fast on his snow-skates (slcaes), that in these arts no 
one can contend with him. He is also very handsome 
in his person and possesses every quality of a warrior; 
wherefore it is proper to invoke him in single combats. 
Uller's mansion is Ydaler (valleys of rain). From his 
running on skees we judge that he is a personification 
of winter, and if the artist chooses him for his theme, 
he must represent him standing on snow-shoes, clad in 
a winter-suit, with bow and arrow in his hands. We 
are now prepared to give some of Thor's adventures. 


Thor had once gone eastward to crush trolls, but 
Odin rode on his horse, Sleipner, to Jotunheim, and 
came to a giant by name • Hrungner. Then asked 
Hrungner what man that was, who with a helmet of 
gold rode through the air and over the sea, and added 
that it was an extraordinarily good horse he had. Odin 
replied that he would wager his head that so good a 
horse could not be found in Jotunheim. Hrungner 
said that it was indeed a very excellent horse, but he 
had one, by name Goldfax (gold-mane), that could take 
much longer paces, and he immediately sprang upon 
his horse and galloped away after Odin. Odin con- 
stantly kept ahead, but Hrungner's giant nature had 
become so excited that before he was himself aware of 
it he had come within the gates of Asgard. When he 
came to the door of the hall the gods invited him to 
drink, which as soon as he had entered he demanded. 
Then the gods set before him the bowls out of which 
Thor was accustomed to drink, and them he emptied 
each in one draught. And when he had become drunk, 
he gave the freest vent to his loud boastings. He was 
going to take Valhal, he said, and carry it off to Jotun- 


heim; he Avonld demolish Asgard and kill the gods, 
except Freyja and Sif, whom he wonld take home with 
him ; and while Freyja was pouring the celestial bever- 
age into the bowls for him he remarked that he was 
going to drink np all the ale of the gods. When the 
gods at length greAV tired of his arrogance, they named 
Thor, who immediately came, and swung his hammer 
and was very much enraged, and asked who was to 
blame that dogwise giants should be permitted to drink 
there, or who had given safety to Hrungner in Valhal, 
and why Freyja should pour ale for him as she did at 
the feasts of the gods. Hrungner, looking at Thor with 
anything but a friendly eye, answered that Odin had 
invited him and that he was under his protection. 
Thor said that Hrungner should come to rue that 
invitation before he came out; but the giant answered 
that it would be but little honor to Asathor to kill 
him, unarmed as he was; it would be a better proof 
of his valor if he dared contend with him at the 
boundaries of his territory, at Grjottungard {Grjot- 
tunagar'bar). Foolish was it also of me, continued 
Hrungner, to leave my shield and my flint-stone at 
home; had I my weapons here we would now try a 
holmgang;* but I declare you to be a coward if you 
kill me unarmed. Thor would not excuse himself from 
a duel when he was challenged out on a holm; this 
was something that no one had ever offered him be- 
fore. Hrungner now went his way and hastened home. 
This journey of Hrungner was much talked of by the 
giants, and especially did his challenge of "Thor awaken 

♦Holmgang (literally ide-gang) is a duel taking place on a small island. 
Each combatant was attended by a second, who had to protect him with a 
shield. The person challenged had the right to strike the first blow. When 
the opponent was wounded, so that his blood stained the ground, the seconds 
might interfere and put an end to the combat. He that was the first wounded 
had to pay the holmgang fine. 


their interest, and it was of great importance to them 
which of the two should come out from the combat 
victorious. For if Hrungner, who was the most pow- 
erful among the giants, should be conquered, they 
might look for nothing but evil from Tlior. They 
therefore made at Grjottungard a man of clay, nine 
rasts (miles?) high and three rasts broad between the 
shoulders; they could not find a heart corresponding 
to his size, and therefore took one out of a mare ; but 
this fluttered and trembled when Thor came. Hrung- 
ner had a heart of hard stone, sharp and three-cor- 
nered; his head was also of stone, and likewise his 
shield, which was broad and thick, and this shield he 
held before himself when he stood at Grjottungard 
waiting for Thor. His weapon was a flint-stone, which 
he swung over his shoulders, so that it was no trifle to 
join in combat with him. By his side stood the clay- 
giant, that is called Mokkerkalfe {MokkrkcUfi), and was 
so extremely terrified that the sweat poured from off 
him. Thor went to the holmgang together with Thjalfe, 
a servant, whom he had got from a peasant by the sea. 
Thjalfe ran to the place where Hrungner was standing, 
and said to him: You stand unguarded, giant; you 
hold the shield before you, but Thor has seen you; he 
comes with violence from beneath the earth and attacks 
you. Then Hrungner hastily put the shield beneath his 
feet and stood on it, but he seized his flint-stone with 
both hands. Presently he saw flashes of lightning and 
heard loud crashings, and then he saw Thor in his asa- 
might, rushing forward with impetuous speed, swinging 
his hammer and throwing it from the distance against 
Hrungner. The latter lifted the flint-stone with both 
his hands and threw it with all his might against the 
hammer; the two met in the air and the flint-stone 


broke into two pieces, one piece of which fell on the 
ground (and hence the flint mountains), while the other 
fell with such force against the head of Thor that he 
fell forward to the ground; but the hammer Mjolner 
hit Hrungner right in the head and crushed his skull 
into small pieces, he himself falling over Thor, so that 
his foot lay across Thor's neck. Thjalfe contended with 
Mokkerkalfe, who fell with little honor. Then Thjalfe 
went over to Thor, and was going to take Hrungner's 
foot away, but he was not able to do it. Thereupon 
came all the gods to Grjottungard, when they had learned 
that Thor had fallen, but neither was any one of them 
able to remove the foot of the giant. Then came 
Magne (inagni, strength), the son of Thor and Jarn- 
saxa; he was only three nights old and he threw 
Hrungner's foot off from Thor saying: It was a great 
mishap, father, that I came so late ; this giant, I think, 
I could have slain with my fist. Thor stood up and 
lovingly greeted his son, adding that he would give 
him the giant's horse Goldfax ; but Odin remarked that 
this was wrongfully done of Thor to give the son of a 
hag {gygjar syni, son of Jarnsaxa) and not his father 
so excellent a horse. 

Thor returned home to Thrudvang, and the flint- 
stone sat fast in his head. Then came a sorceress, 
whose name was Groa, wife of Orvandel the Wise ; she 
sang her magic songs over Thor until the flint-stone 
became loose. But when Thor perceived this, and was 
just expecting that the stone would disappear, he desired 
to reward Groa for her cure, and gladden her heart. 
He accordingly related to her how he had waded from 
the north over the rivers Elivagar and had borne Or- 
vandel on his back in a basket from Jotunheim ; and 
in evidence he told her that one toe of Orvandel had 


protruded from the basket and had frozen, wherefore he 
had broken it oS" and thrown it up into the sky and 
made of it the star which is called Orvandel's toe. 
Finally he added that it would not be long before Or- 
vandel would come home again. But Groa became so 
delighted with this news that she forgot all her magic 
songs and the flint-stone became no looser than it was, 
and it sticks fast in Thor's head yet. Therefore no one 
must throw a flint-stone across the floor, for then the 
stone in Thor's head is move.d. Thus sings the Skald, 
Thjodolf of Hvin : 

We have ample evidence 

Of the terrible giant's journey 

To Grjottungard, 

With berg-folks' consuming fire 

The blood boiled in Meile's brother,* 

The moon-land trembled. 

When earth's son went 

To the steel-gloved contest. 

In bright flame stood 

All the realms of the sky 

For Uller's step-father, 

And the earth rocked ; 

To pieces flew Svolner's widow 

When the span of goats 

Drew the sublime chariot 

And its divine master 

To the meeting with Hrungner. 

The most prominent feature of this myth is the 
lightning which strikes down among the rocks and 
splits them. Hrungner (from lirnga, to wrinkle, to heap 
up) is the naked, wrinkled mountains with their peaks. 
Everything is made of stone. Hrungner's heart and 
head and shield and weapon were all of stone; beside 

*A name for Thor. 


him stands the cla3'ey mountain (Mokkerkalfe) clad in 
mist {molckr), and the contest is at Grjottungard, on the 
boundary of the stone-covered held. Thor crushes the 
mountain to make way for agriculture. Thjalfe is the 
untiring labor, which prepares the rock for cultivation. 
He advises Hrungner to protect himself from below 
with his shield. The cultivation of the mountain must 
begin at the foot of it; there labors the industrious 
farmer. When he looks up the mountain lifts its rocky 
head like a huge giant of stone, but the clouds gather 
around the giant's head, the lightnings flash and split 
it. Thjalfe may also be regarded as a concomitant of 
the thunderstorm, and would then represent the j^our- 
ing rain, as Thor had got him from a peasant by the 
sea, and he contends with the mountain of clay, from 
which the water pours down. Thor's forehead may also 
represent the face of the earth, from which he rises as 
the son of earth, and we know that Minerva sprang 
forth full-grown and equipped from the brain of Zeus. 
Orvandel* and Groa (to grow) refer to the seed sprout- 
ing (Orvandel) and growing. Thor carries the seed in 
his basket over the ice-cold streams (Elivagar), that is, 
he preserves plant-life through the winter; the sprout 
ventures out too early in the spring and a toe freezes 
off; and it is a beautiful idea that the gods make shin- 
ing stars of everything in the realm of giants tliat has 
become useless on earth, and what more charming theme 
can the painter ask for than Thor carrying on his divine 
shoulders the reckless Orvandel wading through the ice 
streams of winter? 

Before proceeding to the next myth, we will pause 
here for a moment and take a cursory look at history, to 
see whether a few outlines of it do not find their com- 

* Orvandel, from aur, earth, and vendill, the sprout (rondr), ruler = the seed. 


pletest reflection in this stone-hearted myth about 
Hrungner and Thor. 

rirungner on his horse Goldfax, racing with Odin and 
Sleipner, in the most perfect manner represents the 
Eoman poetastry reveling in the wealtli robbed from the 
nations of the earth, in rivahy with the genuine Greek 
poetry and philosoph}^ ; for Sleipner is Pegasos ; and 
when the Roman poetasters are in the hight of their 
glory Hrungner is entertained at Asgard, drunk and 
crazy, bragging and swearing that he will put all the gods 
to death excepting Sif (Fortuna) and Freyja (Venus), 
destroy Asgard and move Valhal to Jotunheim ; or, in 
other words, Venus and Fortuna are the only divinities 
that shall be worshiped ; all religion (Asgard) shall be 
rooted out and history (Valhal) shall only serve to glorify 

But in the course of time the North begins to take 
part in determining the destinies of the world; Thor 
comes home, and shortly afterwards a duel is fought 
between the Goth and Eoman (Vandal) in which Eome is 
worsted, which could not be expressed more fitly than by 
the fortunate blow of Mjolner, which crushes the stone- 
hearted and stone-headed Giant (Eoman Vandalism). 

But the Goth becomes Eomanized, he becomes a slave 
of Eoman thought and Eoman civilization, and thus 
Hrungner falls upon Thor, with his foot upon Thor's 
neck, until his son Magne comes and takes it away. 
Magne is the Anglo-Saxon who created a Gothic Chris- 
tianity and a Gothic book-speech ; and well might the 
Anglo-Saxon be called Magne, son of Asathor and the 
hag Jarnsaxa, for Magne is the mythical representation 
of the mechanical arts, which have received their most 
perfect development in England and America (the Anglo- 
Saxons). And we need only to look at the literature of 


England and America to observe with what pleasure 
Magne (the Anglo-Saxon) is a great child, who rides the 
horse Goldfax (the Latin language), at which Odin (the 
Goth) may well complain that it was wrongfully done, 
although the spirit of the North (Odin) might rather 
envy the horse (Eomanism) its rider than the rider (the 
Anglo-Saxon) his horse. 

In regard to the piece of flint-stone that remained 
in Thor's forehead, and sticks there yet, we know, alas ! 
that it is too true that the schools and the literature of all 
the Teutonic races suffer more or less from the curse of 
Eomanism; and this they suffer in spite of the German 
sorceress Groa (Luther), who in the sixteenth century 
loosened the ugly Eoman popery in Thor's forehead 
without his getting rid of it; for he began boasting too 
soon, and Groa (the Lutheran Eeformation) became so 
glad on account of her husband with his frozen toe 
(German scholasticism and soulless philosophy elevated to 
the skies), that she forgot not her Latin but her magic 
Teutonic songs ; and hence we look in vain for a complete 
system of German mythology and old German poetry. 

Who the Mokkerkalfe who assisted Hrungner is, in 
this picture, it is difficult to say, unless it be the Arab, 
and he may well be called a brother of the Eoman 
(Hrungner) against Thor. The Mokkerkalfe had a 
mare's heart in him, and we know that love of horses 
has forever been a characteristic of the Arabs ; and the 
Frank, who defeated the Arab on the historical arena, 
must then be Thjalfe, who was a servant of Thor. 

Thus this myth is disposed of and its application 
in a prophetic sense has been pointed out. It is not 
claimed that the ancient Norsemen had in their minds 
Arabs and Greeks and Eomans and Franks and Anglo- 
Saxons, but that they had in their minds a profound 


comprehension of the relations of things, the supreme 
law 'of the universe ; and history is but the reflection 
of the sublimest riddles in nature. 


It is worth relating how Thor made a journey to 
Geirrodsgard without his hammer Mjolner, or belt 
Megingjarder, or his iron gloves; and that was Loke's 
fault. For when Loke once, in Frigg's falcon-guise, 
flew out to amuse himself, curiosity led him to Geirrods- 
gard, where he saw a large hall. He sat down and 
looked in through an opening in the wall, but Geirrod 
observed him and ordered one of his servants to seize 
the bird and bring it to him. But the wall was so 
high that it Avas difficult to climb up, and it amused 
Loke that it gave the servant so much trouble, and he 
thought it was time enough to fly away when the ser- 
vant had got over the worst. As the latter now caught 
at him, he spread his wings and made efforts (stritted) 
with his feet, but the feet were fast, so that he was 
seized and brought to the giant. "When the latter saw 
his eyes he mistrusted that it was no bird; and when 
Loke was silent and refused to answer the questions put 
to him, Geirrod locked him down in a chest and let 
him hunger for three months. Thus Loke finally had 
to confess who he was, and to save his life he had to 
make an oath to Geirrod that he should get Thor to 
Geirrodsgard without his hammer or his l)elt of strength. 

On the way Thor visited the hag Grid, mother of 
Vidar the Silent. She informed him, in regard to 
Geirrod, that he was a dogwise and dangerous giant, and 
she lent him her belt of strength, her iron gloves and 
her staff, which is called Gridarvold. Thor then went to 

* This Geirrod must not be confounded witli Odiu's foster-son Geirrod, 
son of Hraudung (see p. 228). 


the river Vimer, which is exceedingly large; then he 
buckled the belt around him and stemmed the wild 
torrent with his staff, but Loke and Thjalfe held them- 
selves fast in the belt. When he had come into the 
middle of the river it grew so much that the waves 
washed over his shoulders. Then quoth Thor: 

Wax not, Vimer, 
Since to wade I desire 
To the realms of giants ! 
Know, if thou waxest 
Then waxes my asamight 
As high as the heavens ! 

Up in a cleft he saw Geirrod's daughter, Gjalp, who 
stood on both sides of the stream and caused its growth ; 
then took he a large stone and threw after her. At 
its source the stream must be stemmed, and he always 
hit what he ahiied at. At the same time he reached 
the land and got hold of a shrub, and so he escaped out 
of the river ; hence comes the adage that a shrub saved 
Thor. When Thor with his companions had now come 
to Geirrod, lodgings were given them in a house, but 
there was only one chair in it, and on this Thor sat 
down. Then he noticed that the chair was raised under 
him toward the roof. He then jDut Grid's staff against 
the beams and pressed himself down against the chair ; 
then a noise was heard, upon Avhich followed a great 
screaming, for Geirrod's daughters, Gjalp and Greip, had 
been sitting under the chair and he had broken the 
backs of both of them. Then quoth Thor: 

Once I employed 

My asamight 

In the realm of giants, 

When Gjalp and Greip, 

Geirrod's daughters. 

Wanted to lift me to heaven. 


Then Geirrod invited Thor into the hall to see games. 
Large fires burned along the hall, and when Thor had 
come opposite to Geirrod the latter took with a pair of 
tongs a red-hot iron wedge and threw it after Thor ; he 
seized it with the iron gloves and lifted it up into the 
air, but Geirrod ran behind an iron post to defend him- 
self. Thor threw the wedge, which struck through the 
post and through Geirrod and through the wall, so that 
it went outside and into the ground. 

Geirrod is the intense heat which produces violent 
thunderstorms, and hence his daughter the violent tor- 
rent. Of course Loke (fire) is locked up and starved 
through the hottest part of the summer; but this myth 
needs no explanation, and we proceed to the next. 


One day the god Thor, accompanied by Loke, set 
out on a journey in his car drawn by his goats. Night 
coming on, they put up at a peasant's cottage, when 
Thor killed his goats, and, after flaying them, put them 
in a kettle. When the flesh was boiled he sat down 
with his fellow-traveler to supper, and invited the peasant 
and his wife and their children to partake of the repast. 
The peasant's son was named Thjalfe, and his daughter 
Eoskva. Thor bade them throw all the bones into the 
goats' skins, which were spread out near the fireplace^ 
but young Thjalfe broke one of the shank-bones to 
come at the marrow. Thor having passed the night in 
the cottage, rose at the dawn of day, and when he had 
dressed himself he took his hammer, Mjolner, and, lift- 
ing it up, consecrated the goats' skins, which he had 
no sooner done than the two goats reassumed their 
wonted form, with the exception that one of them now 
limped on one of its hind legs. Thor, perceiving this. 


said that the peasant or one of his family had handled 
the shank-bone of this goat too roughly, for he saw 
clearly that it was broken. It may readily be imagined 
how frightened the peasant was, when he saw Thor 
knit his brows and seize the handle of his hammer with 
such force that the knuckles of his fingers grew white 
with the exertion. But the peasant, as we might expect, 
and his whole family, screamed aloud, sued for peace, 
and offered all they possessed as an atonement for the 
offense committed. But when Thor saw their fright he 
desisted from his wrath and became appeased, and he 
contented himself by requiring their children, Thjalfe and 
Eoskva, who thus became his servants and have accom- 
panied him ever since. Thor let his goats remain there, 
and proceeded eastward on the way to Jotunheim clear 
to the sea. Then he went across the deep ocean, and 
when he came to the other shore he landed with Loke, 
Thjalfe and Roskva. They had traveled but a short dis- 
tance when they came to a large forest, through which 
they wandered until night set in. Thjalfe was exceedingly 
fleet-footed; he carried Thor's provision-sack, but the 
forest was a bad place for finding anything eatable to 
stow into it. When it had become dark they looked 
around for lodgings for the night and found a house. 
It was very large, with a door that took up the whole 
breadth of one of the ends of the building; here they 
chose them a place to sleep in. At midnight they were 
alarmed by a great earthquake. The earth trembled 
beneath them and the whole house shook. Then Thor 
stood up and called his companions to seek with him a 
place of safety. On the right they found an adjoining 
chamber, into which they entered ; but while the others, 
trembling with fear, crept into the farthest corner of this 
retreat, Tlior remained in the doorway, with his hammer 


in his hand, prepared to defend himself whatever might 
happen. Then they heard a rumbhng and roaring. 
When the morning began to dawn, Thor went ont and 
saw a man lying a short distance from the house in the 
woods. The giant was large, lay sleeping, and snored 
loudly. Then Thor could understand whence the noise 
had come in the night. He girded himself with his 
belt of strength, and his divine strength grew ; at the 
same time the man awoke and arose hastily. But it is 
related that Thor on this occasion became so amazed that 
he forgot to make use of his mallet; he asked the man 
for his name, however. The latter answered that his 
name was Skrymer; but your name I do not need to ask 
about, said he; I know you are Asathor; but what 
have you done with my mitten? Thereupon Skrymer 
stretched out his luxnd and picked up his mitten, which 
Thor then perceived was what they had taken over night 
for a house, the chamber where they hud taken refuge 
being the thumb. Skrymer asked whether Thor wanted 
him for a traveling companion, and when Thor con- 
sented to this, Skrymer untied his provision-sack and 
began to eat his breakfast. Thor and his companions 
did the same in another place. Then Skrymer proposed 
that they should put their provisions together, and when 
Thor gave his consent to this, Skrymer put all the food 
into one sack and slung it on his back. He went before 
them all day with tremendous strides, but toward evening 
he sought out for them a place where they might pass 
the night, beneath a large oak. Then said Skrymer to 
Thor that he was going to lie down to sleep; the others 
might in the meantime take the provision-sack and pre- 
pare their supper. Then Skrymer fell asleep, and snored 
tremendously, and Thor took the provision-sack to untie 
it; .but, incredible though it may appear, not a single 


knot could he untie, nor render a single string looser 
than it was before. Seeing that his labor was in vain, 
Thor became angry, seized the hammer Mjolner with 
both hands, went over to Skrymer and struck him on 
the head. But Skrymer awoke and asked whether there 
had fallen a leaf down upon his head, and whether they 
had eaten their supper and Avere ready to go to sleep ? 
Thor answered that they were just going to sleep, and 
went to lie down under another oak, but also here it was 
dangerous to sleep. At midnight Thor again heard how 
fast Skrymer slept and snored, so outrageously that a 
thundering noise was heard through the v/hole woods. 
Arising he went over to the giant, swung his hammer 
with all his might, and struck him right in the skull, 
and the hammer entered the head clear to the handle. 
Skrymer, suddenly awakening, said: What is the mat- 
ter now? Did an acorn fall down upon my head? 
How is it with you, Thor? Thor went hastily away 
and said that he had just waked up; it was midnight, 
he said, and time to sleep. Then thought he that if 
he could get an opportunity to give the giant a third 
blow he should never see the light of day any more, 
and he now lay watching to see whether Skrymer was 
fast asleep again. Shortly before day-break he heard 
that the giant was sleeping again. He got up, has- 
tened over to him, swung his hammer with all his 
might, and gave him such a blow on the temples that 
the head of the hammer was buried in the giant's liead. 
Skrymer arose, stroked his chin and said: Do there sit 
birds above me in the tree ? It seemed to me as I awoke 
that some moss fell down upon me out of the boughs; 
but are you awake, Thor? It seems to me that it is 
time to arise and dress, and you have not now a long 
journey to the castle which is called Utgard. I have 


heard you have whispered among yourselves that I am 
not small of stature, but you shall find larger men when 
you come to Utgard. I am going to give you good 
advice: do not brag too much. Iltgard-Loke's courtiers 
will not brook the boasting of such insignificant little 
fellows as you are. If you will not heed this advice 
you had better turn back, and that is in fact the best 
thing for you to do. But if you are determined to 
go further then hold to the east; my way lies north- 
ward to those mountains that you see yonder. Skry- 
mer then taking the provision-sack, slung it on his 
back and disappeared in the woods, and it has never 
been learned whether the asas wished to meet him again 
or not. 

Thor now went on with his companions till it was 
noon, when their eyes beheld a castle standing on a 
great plain, and it was so high that they had to bend 
their neclvs quite back in order to be able to look over 
it. They advanced to the castle; there was a gate to 
the entrance, which was locked. Thor tried to open it, 
but could not, and being anxious to get within the 
castle they crept between the bars of the gate. They 
saw the palace before them, the door was open, and 
they entered, where they saw a multitude of men, of 
whom the greater number were immensely large, sitting 
on two benches. Then they came into the presence of 
the king, Utgard-Loke, and saluted him; but it took 
some time before he would deign to look at them, and 
he smiled scornfully, so that one could see his teeth, 
saying: It is tedious to ask for tidings of a long jour- 
ney, but if I am not mistaken this little stripling must 
be Asathor; perhaps, however, you are really bigger 
than you look. Well, what are the feats that you and 
your companions are skilled in? No one is tolerated 


among us here unless he distinguishes himself by some 
art or accomplishment. Then said Loke : I understand 
an art, of which I am prepared to give proof, and that 
is, that there is none here who can eat his food as fast 
as I can. To this Utgard-Loke made reply : Truly that 
is an art, if yon can achieve it, which we shall now see. 
He called to the men, who sat on one end of the bench, 
that he, whose name was Loge (flame), should come 
out on the floor and contend with Loke. A trough 
was brought in full of meat. Loke seated himself at 
one end and Loge at the other ; both ate as fast as they 
could and met in the middle of the trough. Loke had 
picked the meat from the bones, but Loge had con- 
sumed meat, bones and trough all together ; and now 
all agreed that Loke was beaten. Then asked Utgard- 
Loke, what that young man could do. It was Thjalfe. 
He answered, that he would run a race with any one 
that Utgard-Loke would appoint. Utgard-Loke replied 
that this was a splendid feat, but added that he must 
be very swift if he expected to win, but they should 
see, for it would soon be decided. Utgard-Loke arose 
and went out; there was a very good race-course on 
the level field. Then he called a little fellow, by name 
Huge (thought) and bade him race with Thjalfe. The 
first time they ran Huge was so much in advance that 
at the turning back in the course he met Thjalfe. You 
must ply your legs better, Thjalfe, said Utgard-Loke, if 
you expect to win, though I must confess that there 
never came a man here swifter of foot than you are. 
They ran a second time, but when Huge came to the 
end and turned around, Thjalfe Avas a full bow-shot 
from the goal. Well run, both of you, said Ut- 
gard-Loke, but I think Thjalfe will hardly win, but the 
third race shall decide it. They accordingly ran a 


third time, but Huge had already reached the goal 
before Thjalfo had got half-way. Then all who were 
present cried out that there had been sufficient trial of 
skill in this art. Utgard-Loke then asked Thor in Avhat 
arts he would choose to give proof of his skill for 
which he was so famous. Thor answered that he pre- 
ferred to contend in drinking with any one that wished. 
Utgard-Loke consented, and entering the palace he called 
his cup-bearer, and bade him bring the large horn which 
his courtiers were obliged to drink out of when they 
had trespassed in any way against established usage. 
The cup-bearer brought the horn, gave it to Thor, and 
Utgard-Loke said: Whoever is a good drinker will empty 
that horn at a single draught, though some men make 
two of it; but there is no so wretched drinker that he 
cannot exhaust it at the third draught. Thor looked 
at the horn and thought it was not large, though tol- 
erably long; however, as he was very thirsty he set it 
to his lips, and without drawing breath drank as long 
and as deep as he could, in order that he might not be 
obliged to make a second draught of it. But when his 
brdath gave way and he set the horn down, he saw to 
his astonishment that there was little less of the liquor 
in it than before. Utgard-Loke said: That is well 
drunk, but not much to boast of; I should never have 
believed but that Asathor could have drunk more ; how- 
ever, of this I am confident, you will emj)ty it at the 
second draught. Thor made no reply, but put the horn 
to his mouth and drank as long as he had breath, but 
the point of the horn did not rise as he expected; and 
when he withdrew the horn from his mouth it seemed 
to him that its contents had sunk less this time than 
the first; still the horn could now be carried without 
spilling, Utgard-Loke said : How now, Thor, have you 


not saved for the tliird draught more than yon can make 
away with ? You must not spare yourself more in per- 
forming a feat than befits your skill, but if you mean 
to drain the horn at the third draught you must drink 
deeply. You will not be considered so great a man 
here as you are thought to be among the asas if you 
do not show greater skill in other games than you ap- 
pear to have shown in this. Then Thor became angry, 
put the horn to his mouth, and drank with all his 
might, so as to empty it entirely; but on looking into 
the horn he found that its contents had lessened but 
little, upon which he resolved to make no further at- 
tempt, but gave back the horn to the cup-bearer. Then 
said Utgard-Loke: It is now plain that your strength 
is not so great as we thought it to be. Will you try 
some other games, for we see that you cannot succeed 
in this? Yes, said Thor, I Avill try something else, but 
I am sure that such draughts as I have been drinking 
would not have been counted small among the asas, but 
what new trial have you to propose? Utgard-Loke 
answered: We have a very trifling game here, in which 
we exercise none but children. Young men think it 
nothing but play to lift my cat from the ground, and I 
should never have proposed this to Asathor if I had not 
already observed that you are by no means what we 
took you for. Thereupon a large gray cat ran out upon 
the floor. Thor advancing put his hand under the cat's 
body and did his utmost to raise it from the floor, but 
the cat, bending its back in the same degree as Thor 
lifted, had notwithstanding all Thor's eff"orts only one 
of its feet lifted up, seeing which Thor made no fur- 
ther effort. Then said Utgard-Loke: The game has 
terminated just as I expected; the cat is large, but 
Thor is small and little compared with our men. Then 


said Thor : Little as you call me I challenge any one to 
wrestle with me, for now I am angry. I see no one here, 
replied Utgard-Loke, looking around on the benches, 
who would not think it beneath him to wrestle with 
you; but let somebody call hither that old woman, my 
nurse, Elle (old age), and let Thor prove his strength 
with her, if he will. She has thrown to the ground 
many a man not less strong and mighty than Thor is. 
A toothless old Avoman then entered tlie hall and she 
was told by Utgard-Loke to wrestle with Thor. To cut 
the story short, the more Thor tiglitened his hold the 
firmer she stood. Finally, after a violent struggle, Thor 
began to lose his footing, and it was not long before 
he was brought down on one knee. Then Utgard-Loke 
stepped forward and told them to stop, adding that Thor 
had now no occasion to ask anyone else in the hall to 
wrestle with him, and it was also getting late. He 
therefore showed Thor and his companions to their 
seats, and they passed the night there enjoying the best 
of hospitality. 

The next morning, at break of day, Thor and his 
companions arose, dressed themselves and prepared for 
their departure. Utgard-Loke then came and ordered a 
table to be set for them, on which there wanted no good 
provisions, either meat or drink. When they had break- 
fasted they set out on their way. Utgard-Loke accom- 
panied them out of the castle, and on parting he asked 
Thor how he thought his journey had turned out, and 
whether he had found any man more mighty than him- 
self. Thor answered that he could not deny that he 
had brought great dishonor upon himself; and what 
mortifies me the most, he added, is that you will con- 
sider me a man of little importance. Then said Utgard- 
Loke: Now I will tell you the truth, since you are out 


of my castle, where as long as I live and reign you 
shall never re-enter, and you may rest assured that had 
I jinown before what might you possessed, and how near 
you came plunging us into great trouble, I would not 
have permitted you to enter this time. Know then that 
I have all along deceived you by my illusions ; first, in 
the forest, where I arrived before you, and there you 
were unable to untie the provision-sack, because I had 
bound it with tough iron wire in such a manner that you 
could not discover how the knot ought to be loosened. 
After this you gave me three blows with your hammer; 
the first one, though it was the least, would have ended 
my days had it fallen on me, but I brought a rocky 
mountain before me, which you did not perceive ; but 
you saw near my castle a mountain in which were 
three square glens, the one deeper than the other, and 
those were the marks of your hammer. I have made 
use of similar illusions in the contests you have had 
with my courtiers. In the first, Loke was hungry and 
devoured all that was set before him, but Loge was in 
reality nothing else but wild-fire, and therefore con- 
sumed not only the meat, but the trough which con- 
tained it. Huge, with whom Thjalfe contended in 
running, was my thought, and it was impossible for 
Thjalfe to keep pace with it. When you tried to empty 
the horn you performed indeed an exploit so marvelous 
that had I not seen it myself I should never have 
believed it. The one end of the horn stood in the sea, 
which you did not perceive, and when you come to the 
shore you will see how much the ocean has diminished 
by what you drank. This is now called the ebb. You 
performed a feat no less wonderful when you lifted the 
cat, and, to tell the truth, when we saw that one of his 
paws Avas off the floor we were all of us terror-stricken. 


for what you took for a cat was in reality the great 
Midgard-serpent, that encompasses the whole earth, and 
he was then barely long enough to inclose it between 
his head and tail, so high had your hand raised him up 
toward heaven. Your wrestling with Elle was also a 
most astonishing feat, for there never yet was, nor will 
there ever be, a man for whom Old Age (for such in 
fact was Elle) will not sooner or later lay low, if he 
abides her coming. But now, as we are going to part, 
let me tell you that it will be better for both of us if 
you never come near me again, for should you do so I 
shall again defend myself with other illusions, so that 
you will never prevail against me. On hearing these 
words Thor grasped his hammer, and lifted it into the 
air, but as he was about to strike Utgard-Lok^ was 
nowhere, and when he turned back to the castle to 
destroy it, he saw only beautiful verdant plains around 
him and no castle. He therefore retraced his steps with- 
out stopping till he came to Thrudvang. But he had 
already resolved to make that attack on the Midgard- 
serpent, which afterwards took place. 

It is said in the Younger Edda that no one can tell 
anything more true of this journey of Thor's, but if the 
reader wants to see the most beautiful thing that has 
been said about this journey, he must learn Danish and 
read CEienschlseger's poem entitled Thor's Journey to 
Jotunheim.* We have only to add that as the asas had 
their Loke, so the giants had their Utgard-Loke. 


The gods were having a feast at ^ger's, and could 
not get enough to eat and drink. The reason was that 

*The next best thing is William Edward Frye's translation of CElen- 
schlaeger'B work entitled The Gods of the North. London, 1845. 


Mger was in want of a kettle for brewing ale. He 
asked Thor to go and fetch it, but neither the asas 
nor the vans knew where it could be found, before 
Tyr said to Thor: East of the rivers Elivagar, near 
the borders of heaven, dwells the dogwise Hynier, and 
this my father has a kettle which is strong and one 
rast (mile) deep. Do you think we can get it? said 
Thor. Yes, by stratagem it may be gotten, answered 
Tyr, Tyr, and Thor under the semblance of a young 
man, now started out and traveled until they came to 
Egil. With him they left the goats and proceeded 
further to Hymer's hall, and we shall presently see how 
Thor made amends for his journey to Utgard-Loke. At 
Hymer's hall Tyr found his grandmother, an ugly 
gianl;ess with nine hundred heads, but his mother, a 
beautiful woman, brought him a drink. She advised 
her guests to conceal themselves under the kettles in 
the hall, for her husband was sometimes cruel toward 
strangers. Hymer came home from his fishing late in 
the evening ; the jokuls resounded as he entered the 
hall, and his beard was full of frost. I greet you wel- 
come home, Hymer, said the woman ; our son, whom 
we have been so long expecting, has now come home to 
your halls, and in company with him is the enemy of 
the giants and the friend of man, Veor {i. e. Asgardsveor, 
the protector of Asgard). See how they have concealed 
themselves at the gable end of the hall, behind the post 
yonder. Hymer threw a glance in the direction pointed 
out by his wife, and the post instantly flew into shivers 
at the look of the giant, the beam broke, and eight ket- 
tles fell down; one was so hard and strong that it did 
not break in falling. The gods came forth, and straight 
the old giant gazed at his enemy. It was no pleasant 
sight to see Thor before him, but still he ordered three 


steers to be killed and served on the table. Thor alone 
ate two. This meal seemed to the friend of Hrungner 
somewhat extravagant, and he remarked that the next 
evening they would have to live on fish. The following 
morning, at break of day, when Thor perceived that 
Hymer was making his boat ready for fishing, he arose 
and dressed himself, and begged the giant to let him row 
oat to sea with him, Hymer answered that such a puny 
stripling as he was could be of no use to him ; besides, he 
said, you will catch your death of cold if I go so far out 
and remain as long as I am accustomed to do. Thor said 
that for all that he would row as far from the land as 
Hymer had a mind, and was not sure which of them 
would be the first who might wish to row back again. 
At the same time he was so enraged that he was much 
inclined to let his hammer ring at the giant's skull 
without further delay, but intending to try his strength 
elsewhere he subdued his wrath, and asked Hymer what 
he meant to bait with. Hymer told him to look out for 
a bait himself. Thor instantly went up to a herd of 
oxen that belonged to the giant, and seizing the largest 
bull, that bore the name Himinbrjoter (heaven-breaker), 
wrung off his head, and returning with it to the boat, 
put out to sea with Hymer. Thor rowed aft with two 
oars, and with such force that Hymer, who rowed at the 
prow, saw with surprise how swiftly the boat was driven 
forward. He then observed that they were come to the 
place where he was wont to angle for flat-fish, but Thor 
assured him that they had better go on a good way fur- 
ther. They accordingly continued to ply their oars, until 
Hymer cried out that if they did not stop they Avould be 
in danger from the great Midgard-serpent. Notwith- 
standing this, Thor persisted in rowing further, and in 
spite of Hymer's remonstrances it was a long time before 


he would lay down his oars. When they finally stopped, 
Hymer soon drew up two whales at once with his bait. 
Then Thor took out a fishing-line, extremely strong, 
made with wonderful art and furnished with an equally 
strong hook, on which he fixed the bull's head and cast 
his line into the sea. The bait soon reached the bottom, 
and it may be truly said that Thor then deceived the 
Midgard-serpent not a whit less than Utgard-Loke had 
deceived Thor wh-en he obliged him to lift up the ser- 
pent in his hand; for the monster greedily caught at 
the bait and the hook stuck fast in his palate. Stung 
with the pain, the serpent tugged at the hook so violently 
that Tlior was obliged to hold fast with both hands in 
the pegs that bear against the oars. But his wrath now 
waxed high, and assuming all his divine power he pulled 
so hard at the line that his feet forced their way through 
the boat and went down to the bottom of the sea, while 
with his hands he drew up the serpent to the side of the 
vessel. It is impossible to express by words the scene 
that now took place. Thor on the one hand darting 
looks of wrath at the serpent, while the monster on the 
other hand, rearing his head, spouted out floods of venom 
upon him. When the giant Hymer beheld the serpent 
he turned pale and trembled with fright, and seeing 
moreover that the water was entering his boat on all 
sides, he took out his knife, just as Thor raised his 
hammer aloft, and cut the line, on which the serpent 
sank again under water. According to another version 
the valiant Thor hauled the venom-spotted serpent up 
to the edge of the boat, his hands struck against the 
side of the boat and with both his feet he stepped 
through, so that he stood on the bottom of the sea. 
With his hammer he struck the serpent in the forehead; 
the mountains thundered, the caves howled, and the 


whole old earth shrank together ; but the serpent sank to 
the bottom, for at the sight of it the giant became so 
terrified that he cut the line. Then, according to both 
versions, Thor struck Hymer such a blow on the ear 
with his fist that the giant fell headlong into the water. 
The giant was not glad when they rowed back. While 
he carried his two whales, Thor took the boat, with 
oars and all, and carried it to the house of the giant. 
Then the giant challenged Thor to show another evidence 
of his strength and requested him to break his goblet. 
Thor, sitting, threw it through some large posts, but 
it was brought whole to the giant. But Thor's fair 
friend gave him friendly advice : Throw it against the 
forehead of Hymer, said she, it is harder than any 
goblet. Then Thor assumed his asastrength. The 
giant's forehead remained whole, but the round wine- 
goblet was broken. The giant had lost a great treasure ; 
that drink, said he, was too hot; but there yet remained 
for Thor one trial of his strength, and that was to bring 
the kettle out of his hall. Twice Tyr tried to lift it, but 
it was immovable. Then Thor himself took hold of it 
at the edge with so great force that he stepped through 
the floor of the hall; the kettle he lifted onto his head, 
and its rings rung at his heels. They had gone a long 
distance before Odin's son looked back and saw a many- 
headed multitude rushing impetuously from the caves 
with Hymer. Then he lifted the kettle from his shoul- 
ders, swung the murderous Mjolner and slew all the 
mountain-giants. After that he proceeded to Egil, where 
he had left his goats ; and he had not gone far thence 
before one of the goats dropped down half dead. It was 
lame, and we remember from a previous myth that a 
peasant near the sea had to give Thor his son Thjalfe and 
daughter Roskva as bond-servants for laming one of his 


goats. Thor iinally came to the feast of the gods and 
had the kettle with him, and there was nothing now to 
hinder yEger from furnishing ale enough at the feast, 
that he prepared for the gods at every harvest time. 

This myth forms the subject of the lay of Hymer 
in the Elder Edda. The whole myth of course repre- 
sents the thunderstorm in conflict with the raging 
sea; but a historical counterpart of this struggle of 
Thor with Hymer and the Midgard-serpent is so forci- 
bly suggested that we cannot omit it. It is Luther's 
struggle with the pope and Eomanism. Luther, the 
heroic Thor, saw his enemy, but did not strike just in 
the right time and in the right way, and the golden 
opportunity was lost after Hymer (the pope) had sev- 
ered the fishing-line ; that is, after the old memories 
were destroyed, when the golden line connecting the 
Germans with their poetic dawn had been divided, and 
Eomanism, with blood-stained breast, with close em- 
brace first twined around the whole school system of 
Germany and north Europe, and horribly mangled their 
grand mission with its fangs, and then seized the Teu- 
tonic Laocoon and his sons and bound their unsophisti- 
cated Teutonic hearts in its mighty folds. Ay, this 
Roman Midgard-serpent, with its licentiousness, arro- 
gance, despotism, unbridled ambition, unbounded ego- 
tism, dry reasoning and soulless philosophy, has grasped 
the Goth twice, yes thrice, about the middle, and 
winding its scaly back thrice around his neck, has over- 
topped him. In vain he has striven to tear asunder 
its knotted and gory spires. He can but shriek to 
heaven for help, and may Thor hear his cry and come 
to his rescue ! May Thor next time embark well armed 
with his gloves and belt and hammer; but he had bet- 
ter leave the giant slain on shore. Yet Luther did a 


noble work. Although his first intention was to leave 
the giant unmolested, and only take his kettle from 
him, still, when he found a determined opposition threat- 
ening, he turned around, set down his kettle, and slew 
both the giant and the many-headed multitude (pope, 
cardinals, bishops, etc.) that followed him. But Luther 
erred in not establishing a thoroughly Teutonic in place 
of a Romanic school system. Thus he left his great 
work only half finished. If he had made good use of 
his hammer at the time, much valuable knowledge about 
our Teutonic ancestors might have been collected and 
preserved which now is lost forever. 


This is a very beautiful myth, and we will give it 
complete as it is found in the Elder Edda, in the lay 
of Thrym. We give our own translation : 

Wrathful was Vingtlior 
As lie awaked 
And his hammer 
Did miss ; 
His beard shook, 
His hair trembled, 
The son of earth 
Looked around him. 

Thus first of all 

He spoke : 

Mark now Loke 

What I say! 

What no one knows 

Either on earth 

Or in high heaven, — 

The hammer is stolen. 

Went they to Freyja's 
Fair dwelling ; 


There in these words 
Thor first spoke : 
Wilt thou, Freyja, lend 
Me thy feather-guise, 
That I my hammer 
Mjolner may fetch? 

I gave it thee gladly 
Though it were of gold; 
I would instantly give it 
Though it were of silver. 

Flew then Loke — 

The feather-guise whizzed ; 

Out he flew 

From home of asas, 

In he flew 

To home of giants. 

On the hill sat Thrym ; 
The king of giants 
Twisted gold-bands 
For his dogs, 
Smoothed at leisure 
The manes of his horses. 

How fare the asas? 
How fare the elves? 
Why comest thou alone 
To Jotunheim? 

HI fare the asas, 
111 fare the elves. 
Hast thou concealed 
The hammer of Thor? ^ 

I have concealed 
The hammer of Thor 
Eight rasts 
Beneath the ground ; 


No man 
Brings it back 
Unless be gives me 
Freyja as my bride. 

Flew tben Loke — 

The feather-guise whizzed ; 

Out he flew 

From home of giants, 

In he flew 

To home of asas. 

Met him Thor 

First of all 

And thus addressed him: 

Hast thou succeeded 
In doing thine errand? 
Then tell before perching 
Long messages; 
What one says sitting 
Is often of little value, 
And falsehood speaks he 
Who reclines. 

Well have I succeeded 
In doing my errand ; 
Thrym has thy hammer. 
The king of the giants. 
No man 
Brings it back 
Unless he gives him 
Freyja as bride. 

Went they then the fair 
^ Freyja to find, 

First then Thor 
Thus addressed her: 
Dress thyself, Freyja, 
In bridal robes. 
Together we will ride 
To Jotunheim. 


Angry grew Freyja, 

And she raged 

So the hall of the asas 

Must shake. 

Her heavy necklace, 

Brisingameu, broke: 

Then would I be 

A lovesick maid 

If with thee I would ride 

To Jotunheim. 

Then all the asas 
Went to the Thing, 
To the Thing went 
All the asynjes. 
The powerful divinities, 
And held consult, 
How they should get 
The hammer back. 

Then spake Heimdal 
The whitest god — 
Foreknowing was he. 
As the vans are all : 
Dress we Thor 
In bridal robes, 
Must he wear. 

Let jingle keys 
About his waist ; 
Let a woman's dress 
Cover his knees ; 
On his bosom we put 
Broad broaches, 
And artfully we 
His hair braid. 

Spoke then Thor, 
The mighty god : 
Mock me all 
The asas would. 


If in bridal robes 
I should be dressed. 

Spoke then Loke 
Laufeyarson : 
Be silent Thor; 
Stop such talk. 
Soon will giants 
Build in Asgard 
If thou thy hammer 
Bring not back. 

Dressed they then Thor 

In bridal-robes ; 


He had to wear ; 

Keys let they jingle 

About his waist. 

And a woman's dress 

Fell over his knees ; 

On his bosom they placed 

Broad broaches, 

And artfully they 

His hair did braid. 

Spoke then Loke 
Laufeyarson : 
For thee must I 
Be servant-maid ; 
Ride we both 
To Jotunheim. 

Home were driven 

Then the gcats. 

And hitched to the car; 

Hasten they must — 

The mountains crashed. 

The earth stood in flames, 

Odin's son 

Rode to Jotunheim. 

Spoke then Thrym, 
The king of giants : 


Giants ! arise 

And spread my benches ! 

Bring to me 

Freyja as bride, 

Njord's daugliter, 

From Noatun. 

Cows with golden horns 
Go in the yard. 
Black oxen 
To please the giant ; 
Much wealth have I, 
Many gifts have I ; 
Freyja, methinks. 
Is all I lack. 

Early in the evening 

Came they all; 

Ale was brought 

Up for the giant. 

One ox Thor ate. 

Eight salmon 

And all the delicacies 

For the women intended ; 

Sif's husband besides 

Drank three barrels of mead. 

Spoke then Thrym, 
The king of giants : 
Where hast thou seen 
Such a hungry bride? 
I ne'er saw a bride 
Eat so much, 
And never a maid 
Drink more mead. 

Sat there the shrewd 
Maid-servant near ;* 
Thus she replied 
To the words of Thrym : 
Nothing ate Freyja 
In eight nights, 

* Loke. 


So much did she long 
For Jotunheim. 

Behind the veil 
Thrym sought a kiss, 
But back he sprang 
The length of the hall: 
Why are Freyja's 
Eyes so sharp ? 
From her eyes it seems 
That fire doth burn. 

Sat there the shrewd 
Maid-servant near. 
And thus she spake. 
Answering the giant ; 
Slept has not Freyja 
For eight nights. 
So much did she long 
For Jotunheim. 

In came the poor 
Sister of Thrym ; 
For bridal gift 
She dared to ask : 
Give from thy hand 
The golden rings, 
If thou desirest 
Friendship of me, 
Friendship of me — 
And love. 

Spoke then Thrym, 
The king of giants : 
Bring me the hammer 
My bride to hallow : 
Place the hammer 
lu the lap of the maid ; 
Wed us together 
In the name of Var.* 

* The goddess who presides over marriages. 


Laughed then Thor's 
Heart in his breast ; 
Severe in mind 
He knew his hammer. 
First slew he Thrym, 
The king of giants, 
Crushed then all 
That race of giants; 

Slew the old 
Sister of Thrym, 
She who asked 
For a bridal gift ; 
Slap she got 
For shining gold. 
Hammer blows 
For heaps of rings ; 
Thus came Odin's son 
Again by his hammer. 

Thrym (from yhruma) is the noisy, thundering imi- 
tator of Thor. While the thunder sleeps, the giant 
forces of nature howl and rage in the storms and 
winds, they have stolen the hammer from Thor. Thor 
goes and brings his hammer back and the storms are 
made to cease. It has been suggested that Thor is the 
Impersonation of truth, and' the Younger Edda speaks 
of him as one never having yet uttered an untruth. 
It has also been claimed that the name of his realm 
TIirnd-\aug contains the same root as our English 
word tr2ith, but this we leave for the reader to examine 
for himself. Before the Norsemen learned to make the 
sign of the cross, they made the sign of the hammer 
upon themselves and upon other things that they 
thereby wished to secure against evil influences. 

Now let us glance at the last appearance of Thor 
on the stage of this world. The Norse king, Olaf the 
saint, was eagerly pursuing his work of Christian reform 


in Norway, and we find him sailing with fit escort 
along the western shore of that country from haven to 
haven, dispensing justice or doing other royal work. 
On leaving a certain haven, it is found that a stranger 
of grave eyes and aspect, with red beard and of a 
robust and stately figure, has stepped in. The courtiers 
address him; his answers surprise by their pertinency 
and depth. At length he is brought to the king. The 
stranger's conversation here is not less remarkable, as 
they sail along the beautiful shore; but after awhile 
he addresses King Olaf thus: Yes, King Olaf, it is 
all beautiful, with the sun shining on it there; green, 
fruitful, a right fair home for you ; and many a sore 
day had Thor, many a wild fight with the mountain 
giants, before he could make it so. And now you seem 
minded to put away Thor. King Olaf, have a care! 
said the stranger, knitting his brows; and when they 
looked again he was nowhere to be found. This is 
the last myth of Thor, a protest against the advance 
of Christianity, no doubt reproachfully set forth by 
some conservative pagan.* 

* Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero-wm'ship. 



ON" the way to Geirrod (see p. 310) we noticed that 
Thor visited the hag Grid, and she lent him 
three things, counterparts of Thor's own treasures, her 
belt of strength, iron gloves and staff. Grid belongs to 
the race of giants; she dwells in the wild, unsubdued 
nature, but is not hostile toward the gods. Her belt, 
gloves and staflF, her name, the place where she dwells 
between Asgard and Jotunheim, her ability to give 
Thor information about Geirrod, all give evidence of her 
wild and powerful character. 

She is the mother of Vidar, who is a son of Odin. 
Hence we have here, as in the case of Tyr, a connect- 
ing link between the giants and asas. Through Tyr 
the gods are related to the raging sea, through Vidar 
to the wild desert and the forests. Vidar is surnamed 
the Silent. He is almost as strong as Thor himself, 
and the gods place great reliance on him in all critical 
conjunctures. He is the brother of the gods. He has 
an iron shoe; it is a thick slioe, of which it is said that 
material has been gathered for it through all ages. It 
is made of the scraps of leather that have been cut off 
from the toes and heels in cutting patterns for shoes. 
These pieces must therefore be thrown away by the 
shoemaker who desires to render assistance to the gods. 
He is present at ^ger's feast, where Odin says to him : 
29 (337) 

338 VIDAR. 

Stand up, Vidar! 
And let the wolf's father* 
Be guest at the feast. 
That Loke may not 
Bring reproach on us 
Here in ^ger's hall. 

His realm is thus described in the Elder Edda: 

Grown over with shrubs 
And with high grass 
Is Vidar's wide land. 
There sits Odin's 
Son on the horse's back ; 
He will avenge his father. 

He avenges his father in the final catastrophe, in Eag- 
narok; for when the Fenris-wolf has swallowed Odin, 
Vidar advances, and setting his foot on the monster's 
lower jaw he seizes the other with his hand, and thus 
tears and rends him till he dies. It is now his shoe 
does him such excellent service. After the universe 
has been' regenerated 

There dwell Vidar and Vale 

In the gods' holy seats. 

When the fire of Surt is slaked. 

Vidar's name (from vv6r, a forest) indicates that he 
is the god of the primeval, impenetrable forest, where 
neither the sound of the ax nor the voice of man was 
ever heard ; and hence he is also most fittingly sur- 
named the Silent God. Vidar is, then, imperishable 
and incorruptible nature represented as an immense 
indestructible forest, with the iron trunks of the trees 
rearing their dense and lofty tops toward the clouds. 
Who has ever entered a thick and pathless forest, wan- 
dered about in its huge shadows and lost himself in its 

* Loke. 

VIDAR. 339 

solemn darkness, without feeling deeply sensible to the 
loftiness of the idea that underlies Vidar's character. 
Vidur is the Greek Pan, the representative of incor- 
ruptible nature. He is not the ruler of the peaceful 
grove near the abode of the gods, where Idun dwells, 
but of the great and wild primeval forest, that man 
never yet entered. The idea of Vidar's woods is ini- 
perishableness, while that of Idun's grove is the con- 
stant renovation and rejuvenation of the life of the 
gods. The gods and all the work of their hands shall 
perish, and it is nowhere stated that Idun survives 
Eagnarok. Odin himself perishes, and with him all his 
labor and care for man; but nature does not perish. 
If that should be entirely destroyed, then it could not 
be regenerated. If matter should perish, where would 
then the spirit take its dwelling ? If Vidar did not 
exist, where would Vale be? The glory of the world, 
the development that has taken place, and the spirit 
revealed in it, perish; but not Vidar, for he is the im- 
perishable, wild, original nature, the eternal matter, 
which reveals its force to, but is not comprehended by, 
man ; a force which man sees and reveres, without ven- 
turing an explanation ; but when all the works of man 
are destroyed by consuming flames, this force of eternal 
matter will be revealed with increased splendor. 

Thus we find the power and strength of the gods 
expressed in two myths, in Thor and in Vidar, both 
sons of Odin, who is, as the reader knows, the father 
of all the gods. Thor is the thundering, noisy, crush- 
ing, but withal beneficent, god; Vidar is silent, dwells 
far away from, and exercises no influence upon, the 
works of man, except as he inspires a profound awe 
and reverence. Thor is the visible, in their manifesta- 
tions wonderful, constantly returning and all-preserv- 

340 VIDAK. 

ing, workings of nature; Vidar is the quiet, secretly 
working, hidden and self-supporting imperishableness. 
Popularity, fame, position, influence, wealth, — all that 
makes so much stir and bustle in the world — shall 
perish ; but the quiet working of the soul, the honest 
pursuit of knowledge, the careful secret development 
^'6f the powers of the human mind, shall live forever. 
And Vidar and Vale (mind and knowledge) shall to- 
gether inhabit the sacred dwellings of the gods, when 
the waves of time have ceased to roll : Vidar as the god 
of imperishable matter, Vale as the god of eternal light 
(spirit) that shines upon it. 




TWO opposite elements in nature are united in 
order to produce life. The opposite elements are 
expressed in the my'tliology by the terms asas and vans. 
In our language and mode of expression that would 
mean the solid and the liquid, the masculine and the 
feminine. Water, the par excellence representative of 
liquids, may symbolize various ideas. It may typify 
sorrow; it then manifests itself in tears, and sorrow is 
as fleeting as the flowing tears. Water may symbolize 
gladness, happiness, and blessings, that flow in gushing 
streams along the pathway of life; and it may also be 
used as the symbol of innocence, purity, and wealth. 
These ideas may be regarded as a general interpretation 
of the vans, and we find them reflected in the triune 
vana-deity: Njord with his children Frey and Freyja, 
who rise from the sea and unite themselves with the 
asa-divinity in heaven and on earth. 

Njord is called Vanagod, and he dwells in the heavenly 
region called Noatun. He rules over the winds and 
checks the fury of the sea and of fire, and is therefore 
invoked by seafarer's and fishermen. He is so wealthy 
that he can give possessions and treasures to those who 
call on him for them. Yet Njord is not of the lineage 
of the asas, for he was born and bred in Vauaheim. 



But the vans gave him as hostage to the asas, receiving 
from them in his stead Hcener. By this means peace 
was reestablished between the asas and vans. (See Part 
II, Chap. 1, Sec. 13.) 

Njord took to wife Skade, the daughter of the giant 
Thjasse.* She preferred dwelling in the abode formerly 
belonging to her father, which is situated among rocky 
mountains in the region called Thrymheim, but Njord 
loved to reside near the sea. They at last agreed that 
they should pass together nine nights in Thrymheim and 
then three in Noatun. But one day, when Njord came 
back from the mountains to ISToatun, he thus sang: 

Am weary of the mountains, 
Not long was I there. 
Only nine nights ; 
The howl of the wolves 
Methought sounded ill 
To the song of the swans. 

To which Skade sang in reply: 

Sleep could I not 

On my sea-strand couch 

For screams of the sea-fowl. 

Tliere wakes me 

When from the wave he comes 

Every morn the mew (gull). 

Skade then returned to the rocky mountains and 
dwelt in Thrymheim. There fastening on her skees 
and taking her bow she passes her time in the chase 
of wild beasts, and is called Andre-dis (Skee-goddess). 
Thus it is said : 

Thrymheim it 's called 
Where Thjasse dwelled, 

* How Skade came to choose Njord when she was permitted to choose a 
husband among the gods, seeing only their feet, was related on page 277. 

^GER AND RAN. 343 

That stream-mighty giant ; 
But Skade now dwells, 
Skee-bride of the gods, 
In her father's old mansion. 

Njorcl is the god of the sea; that is to say, of that 
part of the sea which is immediately connected with 
the earth, that part of the sea which is made service- 
able to man, where fishing and commerce is carried on. 
His dwelling is Noatun, which means land of ships 
{nor, ship ; tiln, yard, place). Njord's realm is bounded 
on the one side by the earth, the land, and on the 
other by the raging ocean, where ^■Eger with his daugh- 
ters reigns. Njord's wife is Skade (harm), the wild 
mountain stream, which plunges down from the high 
rocks, where she prefers to dwell, and pours herself 
into the sea.' Her dwelling is Thrymheim, the roaring 
home, at the thundering waterfall. Taken as a whole, 
the myth is very clear and simple. 

The compromise between Njord and Skade, to dwell 
nine nights in Thrymheim (home of uproar, storms) 
and three nights in Noatun, of course has reference to 
the severe northern latitudes, where rough weather and 
wintry storms prevail during the greater part of the 


These do not belong to the vana-divinities, but are 
given here in order to have the divinities of the sea in 
one place. As Njord is the mild, beneficent sea near 
the shore, so ^ger is the wild, turbulent, raging sea, 
far from the land, where fishing and navigation cannot 
well be carried on ; the great ocean, and yet bordering 
on the confines of the asas. Hence /Eger's twofold 
nature; he is a giant, but still has intercourse with 

344 ^GER AND RAN. 

the gods. Thus in Mimer, JEger and Njord, we have 
the whole ocean represented, from its origin, Mimer, to 
its last stage of development, to Njord, in whom, as a 
beneficent divinity, it unites itself with the gods ; that 
is to say, blesses and serves the enterprises of men. 

^ger visits the gods, and the latter visit him in 
return ; and it was once when the gods visited him 
that his brewing-kettle was found too small, so that 
Thor had to go to the giant Hymer and borrow a 
larger one. In ^ger's hall the bright gold was used 
instead of fire, and there the ale passed around spon- 
taneously. Ean is his wife. She has a net, in which 
she catches those who venture out upon the sea. ^ger 
and Ran have nine daughters, the waves. Loke once 
borrowed Ean's net, to catch the dwarf Andvare, who 
in the guise of a fish dwelt in a waterfall. With her 
hand she is able to hold the ships fast. It was a 
prevailing opinion among the ancient Norsemen that 
they who perished at sea came to Ean ; for Fridthjof, 
who with his companions was in danger of being 
wrecked, talks about his having to rest on Ean's couch 
instead of Ingeborg's, and as it was not good to come 
empty-handed to the halls of Ean and ^ger, he divided 
a ring of gold between himself and his men. 

Thus Tegner has it in Fridthjof at Sea: 

Whirling cold and fast 
Snow-wreaths fill the sail ; 
Over deck and mast 
Patters heavy hail. 

The very stem they see no more, 
So thick is darkness spread, 
As gloom and horror hover o'er 
The chamber of the dead. 

^GER AND RAN. 345 

Still to sink the sailor dashes 
Implacable each angry wave ; 
Gray, as if bestrewn with ashes, 
Yawns the endless, awful grave. 

Then says Fridthjof: 

For us in bed of ocean 

Azure pillows Ran prepares. 
On thy pillow, Ingeborg, 
Thou thinkest upon me. 
Higher ply, my comrades, 
Ellida's sturdy oars ; 
Good ship, heaven-fashioned, 
Bear us on an hour. 

The storm continues; 

O'er the side apace 
Now a sea hath leapt ; 
In an instant's space 
Clear the deck is swept. 

From his arm now Fridthjof hastens 
To draw his ring, three marks in weight; 
Like the morning sun it glistens, 
The golden gift of Bele great. 
With his sword in pieces cutting 
The famous work of pigmied art, 
Shares he quickly, none forgetting. 
Unto every man a part. 

Then says Fridthjof again 

Gold is good possession 
When one goes a- wooing; 
Let none go empty-handed 
Down to azure Ran. 
Icy are her kisses, 
Fickle her embraces ; 
But we'll charm the sea-bride 
With our ruddy gold. 

346 ^GER AN"D RAN. 

How eager Ran is to capture those who venture out 
upon her domain is also illustrated in another part of 
Fridthjofs Saga, where King Eing and his queen In- 
geborg ride over the ice on the lake to a banquet. 
Fridthjof went along on skates. Thus Tegner again : 

They speed as storms over ocean speed ; 

The queeu's prayers little King Ring doth heed. 

Their steel-shod comrade standeth not still. 
He flieth past them as swift as he will. 

Many a rune on the ice cutteth he; 
Fair Ingeborg's name discovereth she. 

So on their glittering course they go. 
But Ran, the traitress, lurketh below. 

A hole in her silver roof she hath reft, 
Down sinketh the sleigh in the yawning cleft. 

But, fortunately, Fridthjof was not far away. He 
came to their rescue, and 

With a single tug he setteth amain 
Both steed and sleigh on the ice again. 

Of ^ger's and Ean's daughters, the waves, it is said 
that they congregate in large numbers according to the 
will of their father. They have pale locks and white 
veils; they are seldom mild in their disposition toward 
men ; they are called billows or surges, and are always 
awake when the wind blows. They lash the sounding- 
shores, and angrily rage and break around the holms;* 
they have a hard bed (stones and rocks), and seldom 
play in calm weather. The names of the daughters of 
^ger and Ran represent the waves in their various 
magnitudes and appearances. Thus Himingloefa, the 

* Rocky islands. 

^GER AND RAN. 347 

sky-clear; Duva, the diver; Blodughadda, the bloody- 
or purple-haired; Hefring, the swelling; Bylgja, billow; 
Kolga, raging sea, etc. 

These myths are very simple and need no extended 
explanations. JEger is the tei-rihle {cegja, to frighten). 
He is also called Hler, the shelterer {JiU, Anglo-Saxon 
Jileo, Danish Lw, English lee), and Gymer, the conceal- 
ing {(jeijma, Anglo-Saxon gi/mau, Norse gjemme, to con- 
ceal, to keep). These names express the sea in its up- 
roar, in its calmness, and as the covering of the deep. 
The name of his wife, Ran (robbery qr the robbing; 
roena, to plunder), denotes the sea as craving its sacri- 
fice of human life and of treasures. It is a common 
expression in IsTorseland that the sea brews and seethes, 
and this at once suggests iEger's kettles. The foaming 
ale needs no butler but passes itself around, and there 
is plenty of it. That ^ger, when visited by the gods, 
illuminated his hall with shining gold, refers of course 
to the phosphorescent light of the sea (Icelandic 
marelldr, Norse morild). Those who are familiar with 
the sea cannot fail to have seen the sparks of fire that 
apparently fly from it when its surface is disturbed in 
the dark. Thus the servants of MgQV, Elde and Fun- 
feng (both words meaning fire), are properly called ex- 
cellent firemen. The relation between Njord and ^ger 
seems to be the same as between Okeanos, the great 
water encircling the earth, and Pontus, the Mediterra- 
nean, within the confines of the earth. 

Some of the old Norse heroes are represented as pos- 
sessing a terrifying helmet, ^ger's helmet {cegishjdlmr)', 
and thus, as Odin's golden helmet is the beaming sky, and 
as the dwarfs cover themselves with a helmet of fog, so 
^ger wears on his brow a helmet made of dense dark- 
ness and heaven-reaching, terrifying breakers. 

348 FREY. 

MgPT and his family, it is certain, did not belong 
among the asas, yet they were regarded, like them, as 
mighty beings, whose friendship was sought by the gods 
themselves; and England, that proud mistress of the 
sea, is the reflection of the myth of ^ger, showing what 
grand results are achieved historically, when human en- 
terprise and heroism enter into friendly relations with 
the sea, making it serve the advancement of civiliza- 
tion, — when the gods go to ^Eger's hall to banquet. 


Njord had two children — a son Frey and a daughter 
Freyja, both fair and mighty. Frey is one of the most 
celebrated of the gods.* He presides over rain and sun- 
shine and all the fruits of the earth, and sliould be in- 
voked to obtain good harvests, and also for peace. He 
moreover dispenses wealth among men. He is called 
van and vanagod, yeargod and goods-giver [fcgjafi). He 
owns the ship Skidbladner and also Goldenbristie {gul- 
linhursti) or Slidrugtanne (the sharp-toothed), a boar 
with golden bristles, with which he rides as folk-ruler to 
Odin's hall. In time's morning, when he was yet a child, 
the gods gave him Alf heim (home of elves) as a present. 

Of Frey's ship Skidbladner, we have before seen (see 
p. 220) how it was made by the dwarfs, sons of Ivald, 
and presented to Frey. It was so large that all the gods 
with their weapons and war stores could find room on 
board it. As soon as the sails are set a favorable breeze 
arises and carries it to its place of destination, and it 
is made of so many pieces, and with so much skill, that 
when it is iiot wanted for a voyage Frey may fold it 
together like a piece of cloth and put it into his pocket. 

* Generally speaking, both asas and vans are included in the term gode, 
both being propitious. 

FRET. 349 

Njord had the consolation, when he was sent as 
liostage to the gods, that he begat a son whom no one 
liates, but who is the best among the gods. Thus the 
Elder Edda, in JEger's banquet to the gods, where Loke 
also was present: 

It is my consolation — 
For I was from a far-off place 
Sent as a hostage to the gods— r 
That I begat that son* 
Whom no one hates. 
And who is regarded 
Chief among the gods. 

To which Loke makes reply : 

Hold thy tongue, Njord! 
Subdue thy arrogance ; 
I will conceal it no longer 
That with thy sister 
A son thou didst beget 
Scarcely worse than thyself. 

But Tyr defends Frey: 

Frey is the best 

Of all the chiefs 

Among the gods. 

He causes not tears 

To maids or mothers : 

His desire is to loosen the fetters 

Of those enchained. 


Hold thy tongue, Tyr! 
Never thou couldst 
Use both hands,f 
Since thy right one, 

* Frey. t See p. 271. 

350 FRET. 

As I now remember, 

The wolf Fenrer took from you. 

TYR : 

I lack a hand, 

Thou lackest good reputation, — 

Sad it is to lack such a thing ; 

Nor does the wolf fare well, — 

In chains he pines 

Till the end of the world. 

Hold thy tongue, Tyr ! 
Thy wife and I 
Had a son together. 
But thou, poor fellow. 
Received not a farthing 
In fine from me. 

FREY: • 
The wolf I see lie 
At the mouth of the river 
Until the powers perish. 
Mischief-maker ! 

If thou dost not hold thy tongue 
Thou also shalt be bound. 

For gold thou bought'st 
Gymer's daughter. 
And sold thy sword 
At the same time ; 
But when the sons of Muspel 
Come riding from the dark woods. 
What hast thou, poor fellow, 
To rely upon? 

Frey has a servant by name Bygver, who responds 
to Loke : 

Know that, were I born 
Of so noble a race 

FEEY. 351 

As Ingun's Frey, 

And had I 

So glorious a hall, 

I would crusli the evil crow, 

Break his bones to the marrow ! 

LoKE then turns upon Bygver, and calls him a 
little impertinent thing, that always hangs about Frey's 
ears and cries under the millstone (can the reader help 
thinking at this moment of Robert Burns' famous poem, 
John Barlcijcorn ?) ; a good-for-nothing fellow, who never 
would divide good with men, and when the heroes 
fought they could not find him, for he was concealed 
in the straw of the bed. 

Frey's maid-servant is Beyla, Bygver's wife, whom 
Loke calls the ugliest and filthiest hag that can be 
found among the dfi'spring of the gods. Of course Loke 
exaggerates and uses abusive language, but it was in 
truth a sorry thing for Frey that he traded his sword 
away, for it is to this fact he owes his defeat when he 
encounters Surt in Ragnarok. 

Frey's wife was Gerd, a daughter of Gymer, and 
their son was Fjolner. Frey was worshiped throughout 
the northei'n countries. In the common formula of the 
oath his name was put first: Hjalpi mer sva Freyr 
OK Njoedr ok hinn almattki as ! that is, So help 
me Frey and Njord and the almighty Asa (Odin). On 
Jul-eve (Christmas eve) it was customary to lead out a 
boar, which was consecrated to Frey, and which was 
called the atonement boar. On this the persons present 
laid their hands and made solemn vows; and at the 
feast, where the flesh of the sacrificed animal was eaten 
by the assembled guests, there was drunk, among other 
horns, a horn to Njord and Frey for prosperous seasons 
and for peace. 



Everything about Frey goes to show that he is the 
god of the earth's fruitfuluess. The sea, Njord, rises 
as vapor and descends in rain upon the land, making 
it fruitful. There has been much dispute about the 
etymological meaning of the word Frey. Finn Mag- 
niissou derives it from froe, Norse fro, meaning seed. 
Grimm, on the other hand, thinks the fundamental idea 
is mildness, gladness (compare German froh, Norse 
fryd). A derived meaning of the word is man, mascu- 
line of Freyja (German frau), meaning woman. 


Frey had one day placed himself in Hlidskjalf, and 
looked out upon all the worlds. He also saw Jotunheim, 
and perceived a large and stately mansion which a maid 
was going to enter, and as she raised the latch of the 
door so great a radiancy was thrown from her hand, 
that the air and waters and all worlds were illuminated 
by it. It was Gerd, a daughter of the giant Gymer 
and Aurboda, relatives of Thjasse. At this sight Frey, 
as a just punishment for his audacity in mounting on 
that sacred throne, was struck "with sudden sadness, so 
that on his return home he could neither speak nor 
sleep nor drink, nor did any one dare to inquire the 
cause of his affliction. Frey's messenger was named 
Skirner. Njord sent for him and requested of him, as 
did also Skade, that he should ask Frey why he thus 
refused to speak to any one. 

Thus the Elder Edda, in the lay of Skirner:* 

Skirner, arise, and swiftly run 
Where lonely sits our pensive son ; 

* Herbert's tranelation. 


Bid liim to parley, and inquire 

'Gainst whom lie teems with sullen ire. 

111 words I fear my lot will prove. 
If I your son attempt to move ; 
If I bid parley, and inquire 
Why teems his soul with savage ire. 

Reluctantly Skirner then proceeded to Frey, and 
thub addressed him: 

Prince of the gods, and first in fight! 
Speak, honored Frey, and tell me right : 
Why spends my lord the tedious day 
In his lone hall, to grief a prey ? 

Oh, how shall I, fond youth, disclose 
To you my bosom's heavy woes? 
The ruddy god* shines every day. 
But dull to me his cheerful ray. 


Tour sorrows deem not I so great 
That you the tale should not relate : 
Together sported we in youth. 
And well may trust each other's truth. 

In Gymer's court I saw her move. 
The maid who fires my breast with love ; 
Her snow-white arms and bosom fair 
Shone lovely, kindling sea and air. 
Dear is she to my wishes, more 
Than e'er was maid to youth before; 
But gods and elves, I wot it well. 
Forbid that we together dwell. 



Give me that horse of wondrous breed 
To cross the nightly flame with speed ; 
And that self-brandished sword to smite 
The giant race with strange afli'ight. 


To you I give this wondrous steed 
To pass the watchful fire with speed ; 
And this, which borne by valiant wight. 
Self-brandished will his foemen smite. 

Frey, having thus given away his sword, found him- 
self without arms when he on auotlier occasion fought 
with Bele, and hence it was that he slew him with a 
stag's antlers. This combat was, however, a trifling 
affair, for Frey could have killed him with a blow of 
his fist, had he felt inclined; but the time will come 
when the sons of Muspel will sally forth to the fight in 
Eagnarok, and then indeed will Frey truly regret hav- 
ing parted with his falchion. Having obtained the horse 
and sword, Skirner set out on his journey, and thus 
he addressed his horse: 

Dark night is spread ; 't is time, I trow, 
To climb the mountains hoar with snow ; 
Both shall return, or both remain 
In durance, by the giant ta'en. 

Skirner rode into Jotunheim, to the court of Gymer. 
Furious dogs were tied there before the gate of the 
wooden inclosure which surrounded Gerd's bower. He 
rode 'toward a shepherd, who was sitting on a mound, 
and thus addressed him : 

Shepherd, you, that sit on the mound. 
And turn your watchful eyes around, 
How may I lull these bloodhounds ? say ; 
How speak unharmed with Gymer's may ? * 

* May, maid. 



Whence and what are you? doomed to die? 
Or, dead, revisit you the sky? 
For ride by night or ride by day. 
You ne'er shall come to Gymer's may, 

I grieve not, I, a better part 
Fits him who boasts a ready heart : 
At hour of birth our lives were shaped ; 
The doom of fate can ne'er be 'scaped. 

But Gerd inside hears the stranger, and thus speaks 
to her maid-servant: 

What sounds unknown my ears invade, 
Frightening this mansion's peaceful shade; 
The earth's foundation rocks withal. 
And trembling shakes all Gymer's hall. 


Dismounted stands a warrior sheen ; 
His courser crops the herbage green. 

Haste! bid him to my bower with speed, 
To quaff unmixed the pleasant mead; 
And good betide us ; for I fear 
My brother's murderer is near. 

Skirner having entered, Gerd thus addresses him: 

What are you, elf or asas' son? 

Or from the wiser vanas sprung? 

Alone to visit our abode, 

O'er bickering flames, why have you rode? 

Nor elf am I, nor asas' son ; 
Nor from the wiser vanas sprung : 
Yet o'er the bickering flames I rode 
Alone to visit your abode. 



Eleven apples here I hold, 

Gerd, for you, of purest gold ; 

Let this fair gift your bosom move 

To grant young Frey your precious love. 


Eleven apples take not I 
From man as price of chastity : 
While life remains, no tongue shall tell 
That Frey and I together dwell. 

Gerd, for you this wondrous ring, 
Burnt on young Balder's pile, I bring. 
On each ninth night shall other eight 
Drop from it, all of equal weight. 

I take not, I, that wondrous ring. 
Though it from Balder's pile you bring: 
Gold lack not I, in Gymer's bower; 
Enough for me my father's dower. 

Behold this bright and slender wand, 
Unsheathed and glittering in my hand I 
Refuse not, maiden ! lest your head 
Be severed by the trenchant blade. 

Gerd will ne'er by force be led 
To grace a conqueror's hateful bed ; 
But this I trow, with main and might 
Gymer shall meet your boast in fight. 

Behold this bright and slender wand. 
Unsheathed and glittering in my hand! 
Slain by its edge your sire shall lie, 
That giant old is doomed to die. 


As this has no effect upon Gerd's mind, Skirner heaps 
blows upon her with a magic wand, and at the same 
time he begins his incantations, scoring runic characters 
as he sings: 

E'en as I list, the magic wand 
Shall tame you ! Lo, with charmed hand 
I touch you, maid ! There shall you go 
Where never man shall learn your woe. 
On some high, pointed rock, forlorn 
Like eagle, shall you sit at morn ; 
Turn from the world's all-cheering light, 
And seek the deep abyss of night. 
Food shall to you more loathly show 
Than slimy serpent creeping slow. 
When forth you come, a hideous sight, 
Each wondering eye shall stare with fright ; 
By all observed, yet sad and lone ; 
'Mongst shivering giants wider known 
Than him* who sits unmoved on high. 
The guard of heaven with sleepless eye. 
'Mid charms and chains and restless woe. 
Your tears with double grief shall flow. 
Now sit down, maid, while I declare 
Your tide of sorrow and despair. 
Your bower shalL be some giant's cell, 
Where phantoms pale shall with you dwell ; 
Each day to the frosty giant's hall, 
Comfortless, wretched, shall you crawl ; 
Instead of joy, and pleasure gay, 
Sorrow and tears and sad dismay ; 
With some three-headed giant wed, 
Or pine upon a lonely bed ; 
From morn to morn love's secret fire 
Shall gnaw your heart with vain desire; 
Like barren root of thistle pent 
In some high ruined battlement. 

O'er shady hill, through greenwood rouud, 
I sought this wand ; the wand I found. 
♦Heimdal, the god of the raiubow. 


Odin is wroth, and mighty Thor ; 

E'en Frey shall now your name abhor. 

But ere o'er your ill-fated head 

The last dread curse of heaven be spread. 

Giants and Thurses far and near, 

Suttung's sons, and ye asas, hear 

How I forbid with fatal ban 

This maid the joys, the fruit of man. 

Cold Grimner is that giant liight 

Who you shall hold in realms of might ; 

Where slaves in cups of twisted roots 

Shall bring foul beverage from the goats ; 

Nor sweeter draught, nor blither fare 

Shall you, sad virgin, ever share. 

'Tis done ! I wind the mystic charm ; 
Thus, thus I trace the giant form ; 
And three fell characters below. 
Fury and Lust and restless Woe. 
E'en as I wound, I straight unwind 
This fatal spell, if you are kind. 

Now hail, now hail, you warrior bold! 
Take, take this cup of crystal cold. 
And quaff the pure metheglin old. 
Yet deemed I ne'er that, love could bind 
To vana-youth my hostile mind. 


I turn not home to bower or hall 
Till I have learnt mine errand all ; 
Where you will yield the night of joy 
To brave Njord's, the gallant boy. 


Bar-isle is hight, the seat of love ; 
Nine nights elapsed, in that known grove 
Shall brave Njord's, the gallant boy, 
From Gerd take the kiss of joy. 

Then Skirner rode home. Frey stood forth and 
hailed him and asked what tidings. 



Speak, Skiruer, speak and tell with speed ! 
Take not the harness from your steed, 
Nor stir your foot, till you have said, 
How fares my love with Gymer's maid ! 


Bar-isle is hight, the seat of love ; 
Nine nights elapsed, in that known grove 
To brave Njord's, the gallant boy. 
Will Gerd yield the kiss of joy. 

Long is one night, and longer twain ; 
But how for three endure my pain ? 
A month of rapture sooner flies 
Than half one night of wishful sighs. 

This poem illustrates how beautifully a myth can be 
elaborated. Gerd is the seed; Skirner is the air that 
comes with the sunshine. Thus the myth is easily ex- 
plained : The earth, in which the seed is sown, resists 
the embrace of Frey; his messenger Skirner, who brings 
the seed out into the light, in vain promises her the 
golden ears of harvest and the ring, the symbol of 
abundance. She has her giant nature, which has not 
yet been touched by the divine spirit; she realizes not 
the glory which she can attain to by Frey's love. Skir- 
ner must conjure her, he must use incantations, he 
must show her how she, if not embraced by Frey, must 
forever be the bride of the cold frost, and never expe- 
rience the joys of wedded life. She finally surrenders 
herself to Frey, and they embrace each other, when the 
buds burst forth in the grove. This myth then corre- 
sponds to Persephone, the goddess of the grain planted 
in the ground. Demeter's sorrow on account of the 
naked, forsaken field, from which the sprout shall 
shoot forth from the hidden reed, is Frey's impatient 


longing; and Skirner is Mercurius, who brings Proser- 
pina up from the lower world. 

But the myth has also a deeper ethical signification. 
Our forefathers were not satisfied with the mere shell ; 
and Fi'ey's love to Gerd, which is described so vividly 
in the Eider Edda, is taken from the nature of love, 
Avith all its longings and hopes, and is not only a 
symbol of what takes place in visible nature. As the 
warmth of the sun develops the seed, thus love devel- 
ops the heart; love is the ray of light (Skirner) sent 
from heaven, which animates and ennobles the clump 
of earth. Gerd is the maid, who is engaged in earthly 
affairs and does not yet realize anything nobler than 
her every-day cares. Then love calls her; in her breast 
awakens a new life; wonderful dreams like gentle breezes 
embrace her, and when the dreams grow into conscious- 
ness her eyes are opened to a higher sphere of exist- 
ence. This myth is most perfectly reflected in the love- 
story of Fridthjof 's Saga, an old Norse romance moulded 
into a most fascinating Epic Poem by Tegner. A good 
English translation of this poem appeared a few years 
ago in London, and was republished in this country 
under the auspices of Bayard Taylor. It is also trans- 
lated into almost every other European language, and 
is justly considered one of the finest poetical produc- 
tions of this century. 


The Sagas tell us, as has already been stated, that 
Frey was worshiped extensively throughout the northern 

In Trondhjem there was during the reign of Olaf 
Tryggvesson a temple in which Frey was zealously wor- 
shiped. When the king, having overthrown the statue 


of the god, blamed the bondes* for their stupid idolatry, 
and asked them wherein Frey had evinced his power, 
they answered: Frey often talked with us, foretold us 
the future, and granted us good seasons and peace. 

The Norse chieftain Ingemund Thorstenson, who in 
the days of the tyrant Harakl Hairfair emigrated from 
Norway and settled at Vatnsdal, Iceland, built near his 
homestead a temple, which appears to have been specially 
dedicated to Frey, who had in a manner pointed out a 
dwelling-place to him; for in digging a place for his 
pillars of the high-seat {umlvegis-sulur, something simi- 
lar to the Greek Hermes and Eonian Penates), Inge- 
mund found in the earth an image of Frey, which he 
had lost in Norway. 

The Icelander Torgrim of Seabol was a zealous 
worshiper of Frey, and conducted sacrificial festivals in 
his honor during the winter nights. He was killed in 
his bed by Gisle, and a famous funeral service was 
given him ; but one thing, says the Saga of Gisle Surson, 
also happened, which seemed remarkable. Snow never 
settled on Torgrim's how (grave-mound) on the south 
side, nor did it freeze; it was thought that Frey loved 
him so much, because he had sacrificed to him, that 
he did not want it to grow cold between them. 

In the vicinity of the estate Tver-aa, in Eyjafjord in ^ 
Iceland, there was a temple dedicated to Frey, and the 
place became so holy that no guilty person dared to 
tarry there, for Frey did not allow it. When the chief- 
tain Thorkel the Tall was banished from Tver-aa by 
Glum Eyjolfson, who is universally known as Vigaglum, 
he led a full-grown ox to Frey's temple before he left, 
and thus addressed the god : Long have you been to 
me a faithful friend, Frey! Many gifts have you 

* Farmers, peasants. 


received from me aud rewarded me well for them. Now 
I give you this ox, in order that Glum may some day 
have to leave Tver-aa no less reluctantly than I do. 
And now give to me a sign to show whether you accept 
this offering or not. At that moment the ox bellowed 
loudly and fell dead upon the ground. Thorkel con- 
sidered this a good omen, and moved away with a lighter 
heart. Afterwards (it is related in Vigaglum's Saga) Glum 
in his old days became involved in a dangerous suit for 
manslaughter, which ended in his having to relinquish 
Tver-aa to Ketil, son of Thorvald Krok, whom he con- 
fessed having killed. On the night before he rode to 
the thing (assembly, court), where his case was to be 
decided, he dreamed that there had congregated a num- 
ber of men at Tver-aa to meet Frey ; he saw many 
down by the river {a is river in Icelandic), and there 
sat Frey on a bench. Glum asked who they were, and 
they answered: We are your departed relatives, and 
have come to pray Frey that you may not be driven 
from Tver-aa; but it avails us nothing. Frey answers 
us short and angrily and now remembers the ox which 
Thorkel the Tall gave to him. Glum awoke, and from 
that time he said that he was on uufriendly terms with 

In the temple at Upsala, in Sweden, Frey, together 
\^ with Odin and Thor, was especially worshiped; and by 
the story of the Norseman Gunnar Helming, who in 
Sweden gave himself out as Frey, it is attested that the 
people in some provinces of Sweden put their highest 
trust in this god, and even believed him sometimes to 
ajjpear in human form. 

The horse, it appears, was regarded as a favorite 
animal of Frey. At his temple in Trondhjem it is said 
there were horses belonging to him. It is related of the 


Icelander Eafnkel that he loved Prey above all other gods, 
and bestowed upon him an equal share in all his best 
possessions. He had a brown horse called Frey-fax (com- 
pare Col-fax, Fair-fax,* etc.), which he loved so highly 
that he made a solemn vow to kill the man who should 
ride this horse against his will, a vow which he also 
fulfilled. Another Icelander, Brand, also had a horse 
called Frey-fax, which he made so much of that he was 
said to believe in it as in a divinity. 

Frey's boar, Gullinburste, has been referred to in con- 
nection with the Jul or Christmas festivities, and there 
are found many examples of swine-sacrifice in the old*^ 
Norse writings. King Hedrek made solemn vows on 
the atonement-boar on Jul-eve, and in one of the prose 
supplements to the ancient Eddaic poem of Helge Hjor- 
vardson we find that the atonement-boar is mentioned 
as being led out on Jul-eve, in order that they might 
lay hands upon it and make solemn vows. 

A highly- valued wooden statue or image of Frey was 
found in a temple at Trondhjem, which king Olaf 
Tryggvesson hewed in pieces in the presence of the 
people. Kjotve the Rich, king of Agder in Norway, 
one of the chiefs who fought against Harald Fairhair, 
had a weight upon which the god Frey was sculptured 
in silver. This treasure, which he held in great venera- 
tion, fell after the battle into the hands of King Harald, 
and he presented it to his friend, the chieftain Ingemund 
Thorstenson, who afterwards carried the image in a purse 
and held it in very high esteem. This last-mentioned 
image was probably borne as an amulet, as was often the 
case, no doubt, with the gold bracteates which are found 
in the grave-hows and in the earth, having upon them 
the images of men and animals, and which are furnished 
with a clasp for fastening to a necklace. 

* Fax means Jiair. 

364 FREYJA. 


The goddess of love is Freyja, also called Vanadis or 
Vanabride. She is the daughter of Njord and the sister 
of Frey. She ranks next to Frigg. She is very fond 
of love ditties, and all lovers would do well to invoke 
her. It is from her name that women of birth and 
fortune are called in the Icelandic language 1ms frey jur 
(compare Norse fru and German frau). Her abode in 
heaven is called Folkvang, where she disposes of the 
hall-seats. To whatever field of battle she rides she 
asserts her right to one half the slain, the other half 
belonging to Odin. Thus the Elder Edda, in Grim- 

ner's lay: 

Folkvang 'tis called 
Where Freyja lias right 
To dispose of the hall-seats. 
Every day of the slain 
She chooses the half 
And leaves half to Odin. 

Her mansion, Sessrymner (having many or large 
seats), is large and magnificent; thence she rides out 
in a car drawn by two cats. She lends a favorable ear 
to those who sue for her assistance. She possesses a 
necklace called Brisiugamen, or Brising. She married 
a person called Oder, and their daughter, named Hnos, 
is so very handsome that whatever is beautiful and 
precious is called by her name hnossii' (that means, 
nice things). It is also said that she had two daughters, 
Hnos and Gerseme, the latter name meaning precious. 
But Oder left his wife in order to travel into very 
remote countries. Since that time Freyja continually 
weeps, and her tears are drops of pure gold ; hence she 
is also called the fair -weeping goddess {it grdtfagra (jot). 
In poetry, gold is called Freyja's tears, the rain of 

FREYJA. 365 

Freyja's brows or cheeks. She has a great variety of 
names, for, having gone over many countries in search 
of her husband, each people gave her a different name. 
She is thus called Mardal, Horn, Gefn, Syr, Skjalf and 
Thrung. It will also be remembered, from the chapter 
about Thor, that Freyja had a falcon-guise, and how 
the giant Thrym longed to possess her. In the lay of 
Hyndla, in the Elder Edda, Freyja comes to her friend 
and sister, the giantess Hyndla, and requests her to 
ride to Valhal, to ask for success for her favorite Ottar; 
promising the giantess to appease Odin and Thor, who 
of course were enemies to the giants. Hyndla is in- 
clined to doubt Freyja's remarks, especially as she comes 
to her with Ottar in the night. Who this Ottar was 
we do not know, excepting that he was a son of the 
Norse hero, Instein, and hence probably a Norseman. 
He was heir to an estate, but his right to it was dis- 
puted by Angantyr. It was therefore necessary to make 
his title good, and to enumerate his ancestors, but for 
this he was too ignorant. Meanwhile he had always 
been a devout worshiper of the asynjes (goddesses), and 
had especially worshiped Freyja by making sacrifices, 
images, and erecting altars to her. Hence it is that 
she wishes to help him in this important case, but finds 
that she is not able, and it was for this reason she 
saddled her golden boar and went to the wise giantess 
Hyndla, who was so well posted in regard to the pedi- 
grees, origin and fates of gods, giants and men. Hyndla 
consents to giving the information asked for, and so 
she enumerates first the immediate ancestors of Ottar 
on his father's and mother's side, then speaks of the 
king so famous in olden times, Halfdan Gamle, the 
original progenitor of the Skjolds and several other 
noble families of the North. And as these royal fami- 

366 FREYJA. 

lies were said to be descended from the gods and the 
latter again from the giants, Hyndla gives some of their 
genealogies also. Thus she gets an opportunity to speak 
of Heimdal and his giant mothers, then of Loke and 
of the monsters descended from him, which shall play 
so conspicuous a part in Ragnarok, then of the mighty 
god of thunder, and finally of a god yet more mighty, 
whom she ventures not to name, and here she ends 
her tale. She will not prophesy further than to where 
Odin is swallowed by the Fenris-wolf and the world by 
the yawning abyss. Freyja after this asks her for a 
drink of remembrance to give to Ottar, her guest and 
favorite, in order that he might be able to remember 
the whole talk and the pedigree two days afterwards, 
when the case between him and Angantyr should be 
decided by proofs of this kind. Hyndla refuses to do 
this, and upbraids her with abusive language. By this 
Freyja is excited to wrath and threatens to kindle a 
fire around the giantess, from which she would not be 
able to escape, if she did not comply with her request. 
When the threat begins to be carried out (at the break- 
ing forth of the flaming aurora in the morning) Hyndla 
gives the requested drink, but at the same time curses it. 
Freyja is not terrified by this, but removes the curse by 
her blessing and earnest prayers to all divinities for the 
success of her beloved Ottar. 

We should like to give the lay in full, as it is found 
in the Elder Edda, but having quoted several strophes 
from it before, and it being quite long, we reluctantly 
omit it. We advise our readers, however, by all means 
to read the Elder Edda. There is more profound 
thought in it than in any other human work, not even 
Shakespeare excepted. What a pity that it is so little 
known ! 

FRETJA. 367 

Women came after death to Freyja. When Egil 
Skalhigrimson had lost his young son, and was despair- 
ing unto death on this account, his daughter Thorgerd, 
who was married to Olaf in Lax-aa-dal, comes to console 
him; and when she hears that he will neither eat nor 
drink, then she also says that she has not and will not 
eat or drink before she comes to Freyja. With her, 
lovers who have been faithful unto death are gathered; 
therefore Hagbard sings: Love is renewed in Freyja's 

Freyja is the goddess of love between man and woman. 
Hence we find in her nature, beauty, grace, modesty, the 
longings, joys, and tears of love, and we find also that 
burning love in the heart which breaks out in wild 
flames. She rules in ^o/^vang, in the human dwellings, 
where there are seats enough for all. No one escapes her 
influence. Odin shares the slain equally with her, for the 
hero has two grand objects in view — to conquer his enemy 
and to win the heart of the maiden. 

Thus the Norse mythology teaches us that the sturdy 
Norseman was not insusceptible to impressions from 
beauty nor unmoved by love. The most beautiful flowers 
were named after Freyja's hair and eye-dew, and even 
animate objects, which, like the flowers, were remarkable 
for their beauty, were named after this goddess, as for 
instance the butterfly (Icel. Freyjuheena — Freyja's hen). 

There is a semi-mythological Saga called Orvarodd's 
Saga. Orvarodd signifies Arrow-odd; and as this same 
Arrow-odd is implicated in a large number of love 
exploits, it has been suggested that he may be Freyja's 
husband, whose name the reader remembers was Oder, the 
stem of which is od, and hence we have in the North also 
not only 'a goddess of love, but also a god of love (Cupid), 
with his arrows! 


Freyja's cats symbolize sly fondling and sensual enjoy- 
ment. The name of her husband, Oder, means sense, 
understanding, but also wild desire. The various names 
bestowed ui3on Freyja when she travels among the dif- 
ferent nations denote the various modes by which love 
reveals itself in human life. The goddesses Sjofn, Lofn, 
and Var, heretofore mentioned, were regarded as messen- 
gers and attendants of Freyja. Friday (dies Veneris) is 
named after her. (See page 237.) 


The lives and exploits of the propitious divinities 
have now been presented; and in presenting the myths 
we have not only given the forces and phenomena 
of nature symbolized by the myths, ])ut we have also 
tried to bring the mythology down from heaven to the 
earth, and exhibit the value it had in the minds of our 
ancestors. We have tried, as Socrates did with his 
philosophy, to show what influence the myths have had 
upon the life of our forefathers ; in other words, we have 
tried to put a kernel into the shell. We have tried to 
present the mythology, not as the science and laws by 
which the universe is governed, but as something — call 
it science or what you will — by which to illustrate how 
the contemplation of the forces and phenomena of nature 
have influenced human thought and action. Language 
is in its origin nothing but impressions from nature, 
which having been revolved for a time in the human 
mind find their expression in words. Poetry is in its 
origin nothing else but expressions of human thought 
and feeling called forth by the contemplation of the 
wonderful works of God. And this is also^true of 


We have found the propitious divinities divided into 
three classes, those of heaven, those of earth, and those 
of the sea. The union or marriage between heaven and 
earth has been presented in various myths. The king 
of heaven is but one, but he embraces the earth in va- 
rious forms, and the earth is, in a new form, wedded to 
the god of thunder; nay, the vans, or divinities of the 
sea, arise and fill the land with blessings in various ways. 
The manner in which the gods are combined and inter- 
linked with each other in one grand system is a feature 
peculiar to the Norse mythology. There is not, as in 
the Greek, a series of separate groups and separate dwell- 
ings, but the gods come in frequent contact with each 
other. Odin rules iu the heavens, Thor in the clouds, 
Heimdal in the rainbow, Balder in the realms of light, 
Frey with his elves of light in the earth, but the sun 
affects them all : it is Odin's eye, it is Balder's counte- 
nance, Heimdal needs it for his rainbow, and Frey governs 
its rays ; and still the sun itself rides as a beaming maid 
with her horses from morning until evening. The earth 
has its various forms, and the seed planted in the earth 
has its own god (Frey), surrounded by the spirits of the 
groves, the forests and the fountains. And the king of 
heaven unites man with nature; he not only provides 
for his animal life, but also breathes into him a living 
soul and inspires him with enthusiasm. He sits with 
Saga at the fountain of history ; he sends out his son 
Brage, the god of poetry and eloquence, and unites him 
with Idun, the rejuvenating goddess, whose carefully 
protected rivers meander through the grove full of fruit 
trees bearing golden apples; and he lets his other son, 
Balder, the ruler of light, marry the industrious flower- 
goddess, Nanna, Avho with her maids spreads a fragrant 
carpet over the earth. And as the god of thunder rules 


but to protect heaven and earth, so the naked desert 
and the impenetrable forest exist only to remind us of 
the incorruptible vital force of nature, safe against all 
attacks. The imperishableness of nature appears more 
strikingly in the stupendous mountains and gigantic 
forests than in the fertile, cultivated and protected parts 
of the earth. Now let us again ask: Is there nothing 
here for the poet or artist? Has the Norse mythology 
nothing that can be elaborated and clothed with beau- 
ful forms and colors ? Does this mythology not con- 
tain germs that art can develop into fragrant leaves, 
swelling buds and radiant blossoms ? Does not this 
our Gothic inheritance deserve a place with the hand- 
maids of literature? Will not our poets, public speak- 
ers, lecturers, essayists, and writers of elegant literature 
generally, who make so many quaint allusions to, and 
borrow so many elegant and suggestive illustrations 
from, Greek mythology; will they not, we say, do 
their own ancestors the honor to dip their pen occa- 
sionally into the mythology of the Gothic race? It is 
bad practice to borrow when we can get along without 
it, besides the products of the south thrive not well in 
our northern Gothic soil and climate. Ygdrasil grows 
better here, and that is a tree large enough and fruitful 
enough to sustain the Gothic race with enthusiasm and 
insjoiration for centuries yet to come, and to supply a 
whole race of future bards and poets and artists with a 
precious and animating elixir. Our next generation 
will comprehend this. 




"TTyE have now made an acquaintance with the h'ves 
VV and exploits of the good and propitious divini- 
ties, with the asas and vans. But what of the evil ? 
Whence come they, and how have they been developed ? 
Many a philosopher has puzzled his brain with this vexed 
question, and the wisest minds are still engaged in deep 
meditations in regard to it. It is and will remain an 
unsolved problem. But what did the old Goths, and 
particularly our Norse forefathers, think about the 
development of evil ? What forms did it assume among 
them ? How did it spring forth in nature, and how did 
it impress the minds and hearts of the people? These 
are questions now to be answered: 

There are in the Norse mythology two individuals 
by the name of Loke. The one is Utgard-hoke, hideous 
in his whole being, and his character was sketched in 
the myth about Thor and Skrymer (see pp. 312-322) ; he 
represents physical and moral evil in all its naked loath- 
someness. The other is Asa-ljoke, of whom there also 
have been accounts given at various times in connection 
with the propitious gods ; and it is of him solely we are 
now to speak, as the former belongs wholly to the race 
of giants. Asa-Loke, whom we shall hereafter call by his 


373 LOKE. 

common name, Loke, is the same evil principle in all its 
various manifestations; but as he makes his appearance 
among the gods, he represents evil in the seductive and 
seemingly beautiful form in vrhich it glides about through 
the world. We find him flowing in the veins of the 
human race and call him sin, or passion. In nature he 
is the corrupting element in air, fire and water. In the 
bowels of the earth he is the volcanic flame, in the sea 
he appears as a fierce serpent, and in the lower world 
we recognize him as jsale death. Thus, like Odin, Loke 
pervades all nature. And in no divinity is it more clear 
than in this, that the idea proceeding from the visible 
workings of nature entered the human heart and mind 
and there found its moral or ethical reflection. Loke 
symbolizes sin, shrewdness, deceitfulness, treachery, mal- 
ice, etc. Loke is indeed in his development one of the 
profoundest myths. In the beginning he was intimately 
connected with Odin, then he became united with the air, 
and finally he impersonates the destructive fire. And in 
these changes he keeps growing worse and worse. 

In the banquet of ^ger he reminds Odin that they 
in the beginning of time had their blood mixed. Thus 
the Elder Edda: 


Do tliou mind, Odin, 

That we in time's morning 

Mixed blood together! 

Then thou preteudedst 

That thou never wouldst ask a drink 

Unless it was offered to both of us. 

Sameness of blood symbolizes sameness of mind, and 
Loke is in the Younger Edda called Odin's brother, the 
uncle of the gods. Under the name of Loder, or Lopter, 
Loke took part in the creation of man ; he gave the 
senses, the sources of evil desires, the passions, the fire 

LOKE. 373 

of the veins. Thus he is like the fire, which is benefi- 
cent and necessary for development, but also dangerous 
and destructive. With the giantess Angerboda (pro- 
ducing sorrow) he begat the wolf Fenrer, but the most 
disgusting monster is the woman Hel, who is a daughter 
of Loke. Odin unites himself with the gigantic force 
in nature, but he does this to develop, ennoble and 
elevate it. Loke unites himself with crude matter, but 
by this union he only still further develops the evil 
principle, v/hich then expresses itself in all kinds of 
terrible phenomena: the sea tosses its waves against 
heaven itself, and rushes out upon the land ; the air 
trembles ; then comes snow and howling winds ; the rain 
splashes down upon the earth, etc. Such is also his 
influence upon the human mind. He is the sly, treacher- 
ous father of lies. In appearance he is beautiful and 
fair, but in his mind he is evil, and in his inclinations 
he is inconstant. Notwithstanding his being ranked 
among the gods, he is the slanderer of the gods, the 
grand contriver of deceit and fraud, the reproach of 
gods and men. Nobody renders him divine honors. // 
He surpasses all mortals in the arts of perfidy and 

There is some dispute about the real meaning of 
Loke's name. Some derive it from the Icelandic luTca, 
to end, thus arguing that Loke is the end and consum- 
mation of divinity. Another definition is given, taken 
from the Icelandic log (Anglo-Saxon Jig), according to 
which the primary meaning would be fire, flame. He 
is also called Loder, or Loptcr (the aerial; compare 
Norse luft, Anglo-Saxon lyft, air) ; and this would seem 
to corroborate the definition of Loke as fire. Loder 
{lodern, to blaze) would then designate him in the char- 
acter of the blazing earthly fire, and Lopter as the 

374 LOKE. 

heated and unsteady air. He is son of the giant Far- 
baute, that is, the one who strikes the ships, the wind. 
His mother is Laufey, or Nal, the former meaning leaf- 
isle, and the latter needle. Oak trees produce leaves and 
pines produce needles; both Laufey and Nal are there- 
fore combustibles. His brotbers are Byleist (dwelling 
destroyer, raging flame), and Helblinde, the latter being 
another name for Odin. 

In the previous chapters it has frequently been seen 
how Loke time and again accompanied the gods, they 
making use of his strength and cunning; but it has 
also been shown how he acted in concert with the 
jotuns and exposed the gods to very great perils and 
then extricated them again by his artifices. By Loke's 
advice the gods engage the artificer to build a dwelling 
so well fortified that they should be perfectly safe from 
the incursions of the frost-giants. For this the artificer 
is to receive Freyja, providing he completes his work 
within a stipulated time; but Loke prevented him from 
completing his task by the birth of Sleipner. When the 
dwarfs forge the precious things for the gods, it is he 
who brings about tbat the work lacks perfection, and 
even the handle of Thor's mallet, Mjolner, becomes too 
short ; for evil is everywhere present and makes the best 
things defective. He cuts the hair of the goddess Sif, and 
by this he makes way for the forging of the precious arti- 
cles; thus evil often in spite of itself produces good 
results. Examples of this abound in the history of the 
world. Loke gives Thjasse an opportunity to rob Idun, 
but brings her back again and thus causes Thjasse's 
death. He hungers at Geirrod's, and causes Thor to 
undertake his dangerous journey ; but he also looks after 
Thor's hammer, and accompanies him as maid-servant to 
get it back. He steals Freyja's Brisingamen, and quar- 

LOKE. 375 

rels with Heimdal about it. But his worst deed is Bal- 
der's death. For these reasons Loke is in Old Norse 
l^oetry called: son of Farbaute, son of Laufey, son of Nal, 
brother of Byleist, brother of Helblinde, father of the 
Fenris-wolf, father of the Midgard-serpent, father of Hel, 
uncle of Odin, visitor and chest-goods of Geirrod, thief of 
Brisingamen and of Idun's apples, defender of Sigyn (his 
wife), Sif's hair destroyer, adviser of Balder's bane, etc. 
Odhi, Hoener and Loke are often togethei-. It is re- 
lated that they once set out to explore the whole world. 
They came to a stream, and followed it until they came 
to a force (cascade) where there sat an otter near the 
force. It had caught a salmon in the force and sat 
half sleeping eating it. Then Loke picked up a stone 
and threw it at the otter, struck it in the head and then 
boasted of his deed, for he had killed or captured both 
the otter and salmon with one stone. They then took 
the salmon and otter with them and came to a gard 
(farm), where they entered the house. The bonde,* 
who lived there, hight Hreidmar, an able fellow well 
skilled in necromancy. The gods asked for night lodg- 
ings, but added that they were supplied with provis- 
ions; whereupon they showed what they had caught. 
But when Hreidmar saw the otter he called to him his 
sons Fafner and Regin, and told them that their brother 
Odder (otter) had been slain, and who had done it. 
Father and sons then attacked the gods, overpower and 
bind them, and then inform them that the otter was 
Hreidmar's son. The gods offered a ransom for their 
lives, as large as Hreidmar himself would determine it; 
they made a treaty accordingly, confirming it with oaths. 
When the otter then had been flayed, Hreidmar took 
the skin and demanded that they should fill it with 
shining gold and then perfectly cover it with the same. 

* Peasant, farmer. 

376 LOKE. 

These were the terms of agreement. Then Odin sent 
Loke to the home of the swarthy elves (Svartalf-heim), 
where he met the dwarf Audvare (wary, cautious spirit), 
who lived as a fish, in the water. Loke borrowed Ran's 
net and caught him, and demanded of him, as a ran- 
som for his life, all the gold he had in the rock, where 
he dwelt. And when they came into the rock the dwarf 
produced all the gold which he possessed, which was a 
considerable amount ; but Loke observed that the dwarf 
concealed under his arm a gold ring, and ordered him 
to give it up. The dwarf prayed Loke by all means to 
let him keep it; for when he kept this ring, he said, 
he could produce for himself more of the metal from 
it. But Loke said that he should not keep so much as 
a penny, and took the ring from him, and went out. 
Then said the dwarf, that that ring should be the 
bane of the person who possessed it. Loke had no 
objection to this, and said that, in order that this pur- 
pose should be kept, he should bring these words to the 
knowledge of him who should possess it. Then Loke 
returned to Hreidmar, and showed Odin the gold; but 
when the latter saw the ring he thought it was pretty; 
he therefore, taking it, gave Hreidmar the rest of the 
gold. Hreidmar then filled the otter-skin as well as he 
could, and set it down when it was full. Then Odin went 
to cover the bag with gold, and afterwards bade Hreid- 
mar see whether the bag was perfectly covered ; but 
Hreidmar examined, and looked carefully in every place, 
and found an uncovered hair near the mouth, which 
Odin would have to cover, or the agreement would be 
broken. Then Odin produced the ring and covered the 
hair with it, and said that they now had paid the otter- 
ransom. But when Odin had taken his spear, and Loke 
his shoes, so that they had nothing more to fear, Loke 

LOKE. 377 

said that the curse of the dwarf Andvare should be ful- 
filled, aud that this gold and this ring should be the 
bane of him who possessed it. From this myth it is 
that gold is poetically called otter-ransom. 

And the curse was fulfilled. This curse of ill-gotten 
gold became the root of a series of mortal calamities, 
which are related in the latter part of the Elder Edda, 
in the songs about Sigurd Fafner's bane, or the Slayer 
of Fafner; about Brynhild, about Gudrun's sorrow, 
Gudrun's revenge, in the song about Atle, etc. The 
curse on the gold, pronounced upon it by Andvare, the 
dwarf, is the grand moral in these wonderful songs, 
and never was moral worked out more terribly. Even 
Shakespeare has no tragedy equal to it. When Odin 
and Loke had gone away, Fafner and Eegin demanded 
from their father, Hreidmar, a share of the ransom in 
the name of their brother Odder ; but Hreidmar refused, 
so Fafner pierced his father with a sword while he 
slept. Thus Hreidmar died, but Fafner took all the 
gold. Then Eegin demanded his paternal inheritance, 
but Fafner refused to give it, and disappeared. Another 
prominent character in the Edda is Sigurd, who fre- 
quently visited Eegin and told him that Fafner, having 
assumed the shape of a monstrous dragon, lay on Gnita 
Heath, and had ^Eger's helmet, the helmet of terror, 
before which all living trembled. Eegin made a sword 
for Sigurd, which was called Gram ; it was so sharp that 
when it stood in the river and a tuft of wool floated on 
the current, the sword would cut the wool as easily as 
the water. With this sword Sigurd cut Eegin's anvil in 
twain. Eegin excites Sigurd to kill Fafner, and accord- 
ingly Sigurd and Eegin proceeded on their way to Gnita 
Heath, and discovered Fafner's path, whereupon the lat- 
ter (Fafner) crept into the water. In the way Sigurd 

378 LOKE. 

dug a large grave and went down into it. When Fafner 
now crept away from the gold he S2:)it jioison, but this 
flew over Sigurd's head, and as Fafner passed over the 
grave Sigurd pierced him with his sword to the heart. 
Fafner trembled convulsively, and fiercely shook his 
head and tail. Sigurd sprang out of the grave when 
they saw each other. Then a conversation takes place 
between them, in which Fafner heaps curses upon Sigurd 
until the former expires. Eegin had gone away while 
Sigurd killed Fafner, but came back while Sigurd was 
wiping the blood off the sword. 

Hail to tliee now, Sigurd ! 
Now tliou liast victory won 
And Fafner slain. 

Among all men who tread tlie earth 
Most fearless 
I proclaim thee to be born. 


Uncertain it is to know. 

When we all come together, 

Sons of victorious gods, 

Who was born most fearless ; 

Many a man is brave 

Who still does not thrust the blade 

Into another man's breast. 

Glad art thou now, Sigurd, 
Glad of thy victory, 
As thou wipest Gram on the grass. 
Thou hast my 
Brother wounded. 
Let myself have some share therein. 

It was thou who caused 
That I should ride 

LOKE. 379 

Hither over frosty mountains ; 

His wealth and life 

Would the spotted snake still possess, 

Hadst thou not excited me to fight. 

Then went Begin to Fafner and cut the heart out 
of him with the sword called Eidel, and afterwards 
drank the blood from the wound. He said: 

Sit down now, Sigurd! 

I will go to sleep : 

Hold Fafner's heart by the fire. 

Such a repast 

Will I partake of 

After this drink of blood. 

Thou didst absent thyself 
When I in Fafner's blood 
My sharp blade stained. 
I set my strength 
Against the power of the dragon 
While thou didst lie in the heath. 

Long wouldst thou 
Have let the old 
Troll lie in the heath, 
Hadst thou not used 
The sword which I made, 
Thy sharpened blade. 

Courage is better 
Than sword-strength 
Where angry men must fight ; 
For the brave man 
I always see win 
Victory with a dull blade. 
It is better for the brave man 
Than for the coward 
To join in the battle, 
It is better for the glad 

380 LOKE. 

Than for the sorrowing 
In all circumstances. 

Sigurd took Fatner's heart, put it on a spit and 
roasted it; but when he thought it must be roasted 
enough, and when the juice oozed out of the heart, he 
felt of it with his fingers to see whether it was well done. 
He burned himself, and put his finger into his mouth, but 
when the blood of Fafner's heart touched his tongue he 
understood the song of birds. He heard birds singing in 
the bushes, and seven birds sang a strophe each, talking 
about how Eegin might avenge his brother, kill Sigurd, 
and possess the treasure alone, when Sigurd finally says : 

Not so violent 

Will fate be, that Regin 

Shall announce my death ; 

For soon shall both 

Brothers go 

Hence to Hel. 

And he cut the head off Regin, ate afterwards Fafner's 
heart, and drank both his and Regin's blood. Then 
Sigurd heard the birds sing: 

Sigurd ! gather 

Golden rings ; 

It is not royal 

To be smothered by fear. 

I know a maid 

Fairer than all 

Endowed with gold, 

If thou couldst but get her. 

To Gjuke lie 

Green paths, ,. 

Fortune beckons 

The wanderers forward ; 

There a famous king 

Has fostered a daughter, — 

Her thou, Sigurd, must win. 

LOKE. 381 

Sigurd followed the track of the dragon to his nest 
and found it open. Its doors and door-frames, and all 
the beams and posts of the place, were of iron, but the 
treasure was buried in the ground. There Sigurd found 
a large heap of gold, with which he filled two chests. 
Then he took the helmet of terror (^ger's helmet), a 
gold cuirass, the sword Hrotte, and many treasures, 
which he put on the back of the horse Grane, but the 
horse would not proceed before Sigurd mounted it also. 

This is but the beginning of this terrible tragedy, but 
our space does not allow us here to enter upon all the 
fatal results of the curse of Andvare. In the fate, first 
of Sigurd and Brynhild, and afterwards of Sigurd and 
Gudrun, is depicted passion, tenderness and sorrow with 
a vivid power which nowhere has a superior. The men 
are princely warriors and the women are not only fair, 
but godlike, in their beauty and vigor. The noblest / 
sentiments and most heroic actions are crossed by the 
foulest crimes and the most terrific tragedies. In this 
train of events, produced by the curse of Andvare alone, 
there is material for a score of dramas of the most absorb- 
ing character. In the story of Sigurd and Brynhild, as 
we find it in the latter part of the Elder Edda, there are 
themes for tragic and heroic composition that would 
become as immortal as Dante's Inferno or Shakespeare's 
Macbetli, for they are based on our profoundest sympa- 
thies, and appeal most forcibly to our ideas of the beau- 
tiful and the true. 

The ring Andvarenaut (Andvare's gift), as it is called, 
here as elsewhere, symbolizes wealth, which increases in 
the hands of the wary, careful Andvare {and-vare, wary). 
But for avarice, that never gets enough, it becomes a 
destructive curse. It is perfectly in harmony with Loke's 

382 loke's children. 

character to be satisfied and pleased with the eurse 
attached to the ring.* 

SECTION II. loke's children. THE FENRIS-WOLF. 

Loke's wife was Sigyn ; their son was Nare or Narfe, 
and a brother of him was Ale (Ole) or Vale. 

With the hag, Angerbode, Loke had three children. 
Angerbode was a giantess of Jotunheim, and her name 
means anguish-boding. The children's names are Fenrer 
or Fenris-wolf, the Midgard-serpent called Jormungander, 
and Hel. The gods were not long ignorant that these 
monsters continued to be bred up in Jotunheim, and, 
having had recourse to divination, became aware of all 
the evils they would have to suffer from them ; that they 
were sprung from such a bad mother was a bad omen, 
and from such a father, one still worse. Allfather (Odin) 
therefore deemed it advisable to send the gods to bring 
them to him. When they came, he threw the serpent 
into that deep ocean by which the earth is encircled. But 
the monster has grown to such an enormous size, that 
holding his tail in his mouth . he engirdles the whole 
earth. Hel he cast headlong into Niflheim, and gave her 
power over nine worlds (regions), into which she dis- 
tributes those who are sent to her, — that is to say, all who 
die through sickness or old age. Here she possesses a 
habitation protected by exceedingly high walls and 
strongly-barred gates. Her hall is called Elvidner (place 
of storm); hunger is her table; starvation, her knife; 
delay, her man-servant; slowness, her maid-servant; 
precipice, her threshold; care, her bed; and burning 
anguish forms the hangings of her apartments. The 

* To anyone who wishes to read this great epic of the North, we would 
recommend the Volmnga Saga translated by Eirikir Magnusson and William 
Morris. London, 1872. 


one half of her body is livid, the other half the color of 
human flesh. She may therefore easily be recognized; 
the more so as she has a dreadfully stern and grim 

The wolf Fenrer Avas bred up among the gods, but 
Tyr alone had courage enough to go and feed him. 
Nevertheless, when the gods perceived that he every day 
increased prodigiously in size, and that the oracles warned 
them that he would one day become fatal to them, they 
determined to make a very strong iron chain for him, 
which they called Leding. Taking this fetter to the 
wolf, they requested him to try his strength on it. Fen- 
rer, perceiving that the enterprise would not be very 
difficult for him, let them do what they pleased, permitted 
himself to be bound, and then by great muscular exertion 
burst the chain and set himself at liberty. The gods 
having seen this, made another chain, twice as strong 
as the former, and this they called Drome. They pre- 
vailed on the wolf to put it on, assuring him that, by 
breaking this, he would give an incontestible proof of 
his strength ; it would be a great honor to him if so 
great a chain could not hold him. 

The wolf saw well enough that it would not be so 
easy to break this fetter, but finding at the same time 
that his strength had increased since he broke Leding, 
and thinking that he could never become famous with- 
out running some risk, he voluntarily submitted to be 
chained. "When the gods told him that they had finished 
their task, Fenrer shook himself violently, stretched his 
limbs, rolled on the ground, and at last burst his chains, 
which flew in pieces all around him. He thus freed 
himself from Drome. From that time we have the 
proverbs, to get loose out of Leding, or to dash out of 


Drome, when anything is to be accomplished by pow- 
erful efforts. 

After this the gods despaired of ever being able to 
bind the wolf; wherefore Odin sent Skirner, the mes- 
senger of Frey, down to the abode of the dark elves 
(Svartalf-heim), to engage certain dwarfs to make the 
chain called Gleipner. It was made out of six things, 
namely, the noise made by the footstep of a cat, the 
beard of a woman, the roots of the mountains, the 
sinews of the bear, the breath of the fish, and the 
spittle of birds (the enumeration of these things pro- 
duces alliteration in Icelandic). And although you, says 
he who relates this in the Younger Edda, may not 
have heard of these things before, you may easily con- 
vince yourself that I have not been telling you lies. 
You may have observed that woman has no beard, 
that cats make no noise when they run, and that there 
are no roots under the mountains; but it is neverthe- 
less none the less true what I have related, although 
there may be some things that you are not able to 
furnish proof of. 

How was this chain smithied ? It was perfectly 
smooth and soft like a silken string, and yet, as we 
shall presently see, very firm and strong. When this 
fetter was brought to the gods, they were profuse in 
their thanks to Skirner for the trouble he had given 
himself and for having done his errand so well, and tak- 
ing the wolf with them they proceeded to a lake called 
Amsvatner, to a holm (rocky island) which is called 
Lyngve. They showed the string to the wolf, and ex- 
pressed their wish that he would try to break it, at the 
same time assuring him that it was somewhat stronger 
than its thinness would warrant a person in supposing 
it to be. They took it themselves one after another in 


their hands, and, after attempting in vain to break it, 
said: You alone, Penrer are able to accomplish such a 
feat. Methiuks, replied the wolf, that I shall acquire 
no fame by breaking such a slender thread, but if any 
deceit or artifice has been employed in making it, slen- 
der though it seems, it shall never come on my feet. 

The gods assured him that he would easily break a 
limber silken cord, since he had already burst asunder 
iron fetters of the most solid construction; but if you 
should not succeed in breaking it, they added, you will 
show that you are too weak to cause the gods any fear, 
and we will not hesitate to set you at liberty without 
delay. I fear much, replied the wolf, that if you once 
bind me so fast that I shall be unable to free myself 
by my own efforts, you v/ill be in no haste to loose me. 
Loath am I therefore to have this cord wound around 
me, but in order that you may not doubt my courage, 
I will consent, provided one of you put his hand into 
my mouth, as a pledge that you intend me no deceit. 
The gods looked wistfully at one another, and thought 
the conditions severe, finding that they had only the 
choice of two evils, and no one would sacrifice his 
hand, until Tyr, as has formerly been related, stepped 
forward and intrepidly put his hand between the. mon- 
ster's jaws. Thereupon the gods having tied up the 
wolf, he violently stretched himself as he had formerly 
done, and used all his might to disengage himself, but 
the more efforts he made the tighter became the cord. 
Then all the gods burst out in laughter at the sight, 
excepting Tyr, who lost his hand. 

When the gods saw that the wolf was effectually 
bound, they took the chain called Gelgja, which was 
attached to the cord, and drew it through the middle 
of a large rock called Gjol, which they sank deep into 


the earth ; afterwards, to make it still more secure, they 
fastened the end of the cord to another massive stone 
called Thvite, which they sank still deeper. The wolf 
made in vain the most violent efforts to break loose, 
and, opening his tremendous jaws, and turning in every 
possible direction, endeavored to bite the gods. They, 
seeing this, thrust a sword into his mouth within his 
outstretched jaws, so that the hilt stood in his lower jaw 
and the point in the roof of the mouth ; and this is 
called his palate-spar (gomsparri). He howls horribly, 
and the foam flows continually from his mouth in such 
abundance that it forms the river called Von ; from 
which the wolf is also sometimes called Vonargander. 
There he will remain until Ragnarok, the Twilight of 
the gods. But why did not the gods slay the wolf, when 
they have so much evil to fear from him ? Because 
they had so much respect for the sanctity of their 
peace-steads that they would not stain them with the 
blood of the wolf, although prophecies foretold to them 
that he must one day become the bane of Odin. 

The Fenris-wolf is the earthly fire chained by man, 
exceedingly ferocious when let loose, as has been ter- 
ribly illustrated by our recent fires in Chicago and her 
sister city Boston ; as a devouring wolf it attacks and 
licks up the dwellings of men, as it is said in the lay 
of Haakon : 

Fearfully fares 

The Fcnris-wolf 

Over the fields of men 

When he is loosed. 

Once it shall, with its upper jaw reaching to the 
heavens and with the lower jaw on the earth, advance 
with terror and destruction, and destroy the fire and 
flame of heaven, Odin (the sun). At present it is fet- 


tered on the island, where a grave is dng and a furnace 
is built of stone, with the draft (mouth) partially barred, 
so that the fire is surrounded by things which prevent 
its spreading. It is managed and controlled by men 
for their advantage, and it is so useful that no one would 
think of entirely destroying it (killing it). 


The Midgard- or world-sei-pent we have already be- 
come tolerably well acquainted with, and recognize in 
him the wild tumultuous sea. Tlior contended with 
him ; he got him on his hook, l^ut did not succeed in 
killing him. We also remember how Thor tried to lift 
him in the form of a cat. The North abounds in 
stories about the sea-serpent, which are nothing but 
variations of the original myth of the Eddas. Odin 
cast him into the sea, where he shall remain until he 
is conquered by Thor in Eagnarok. 


The goddess, or giantess (it is difficult to decide what 
to call her), Hel, is painted with vivid colors. She rules 
over nine worlds in Niflheim, where she dwells under 
one of the roots of Ygdrasil. Her home is called Hel- 
heim. The way thither, Hel-way, is long. Hermod trav- 
eled it in nine days and nine nights. Its course is 
always downward and northward. Her dwelling is sur- 
rounded by a fence or inclosure with one or more large 
gates. Gloomy rivers flow through her world. One of 
these streams is called Slid, which rises in the east and 
flows westward through valleys of venom, and is full of 
mud and swords. A dog stands outside of a cave (Gnipa- 
helhr). With blood-stained breast and loud howling 

388 HEL. 

this dog came from Hel to meet Odin, when the latter 
rode down to wake the vala, who lay buried in her 
grave-mound east of the Hel-gate, and to inquire about 
the fate of Balder. Horrible is the coming of Hel, for 

'^she binds the dying man with strong chains that cannot 
be broken. Anguish gnaws his heart, and every evening 

^Hel's maids come and invite him. These maids are also 
represented as dead women, who come in the night and 
invite him who is dying to their benches. And to the 
vision of the dying man opens a horrible, gloomy world 
of fog; he sees the sun, the genuine star of day, sink 
and disappear, while he, on the other hand, hears the 
gate of Hel harshly grate on its hinges, opening to 
receive him. Hel receives all that die of sickness or old 
age. But it also seems that others, both good and evil, 
come there ; for Balder we know came to Hel, after he 
had been slain by Hoder. And Sigurd, who we remem- 
ber slew Fafner, was afterwards assassinated by Gunnar 
and went to Hel; and thither went also Brynhild, in 
her beautiful car, after she had been burned on her 
funeral pile. Hel's company is large, but she has dwell- 
ings enough for all ; for her regions extend widely, and 
her palaces are terribly high and have large gates. Of 
course it is all shadows, but it has the appearance of 

For Balder, 

The decorated seats 
Were strewn with rings; 
The lordly couch 
Was radiant with gold, 
And the pure mead 
Was brewed for him. 

But there seems to have been a place set aside far 
down in the deepest abyss of Hel for the wicked ; for 
it is said that the evil went to Hel, and thence to 

HEL. 389 

Niflhel, that is, down into the ninth world. And it is 
here, in this most infernal pit, that the palace is named 
Anguish; the table, Famine; the waiters, Slowness and 
Delay; the threshold, Precipice, and the bed, Care. It 
is here Hel is so livid and ghastly pale that her very 
looks inspire horror. 

Hel's horse has three feet. Hel-shoes were tied on to 
the feet of the dead, even though they went to Valhal, 

Our English word hell is connected with the goddess 
Hel,* and to kill is in Norse at slaa iliel (i-Hel). The 
faith in this goddess is not yet perfectly eradicated from 
the minds of the people. Her dog is yet heard barking 
outside of houses as a warning that death is near. She 
wanders about from place to place as a messenger of 
death. In the story of Olaf Geirstada-alf it is a large 
ox, that goes from farm to ftirm, and at his breath 
people sink down dead. In the popular mind in Norway 
this messenger of death is sometimes thought to be a 
three-footed goat, and at other times a white three-footed 
horse. To see it is a sure sign of death. When a person 
has recovered from a dangerous illness, it is said that 
he has given Death a bushel of oats, for her wants must 
be supplied, and Hel wandering about in the guise of a 
goat, ox or horse, may accept oats as a compromise. 

It may also be noticed here, that the so-called Black 
Plague, or Black Death, that ravaged Norway as well as 
many other European countries about the middle of the 
fourteenth century, assumed in the minds of the Norse- 
men the form of an old hag (Thok, Hel, Loke), going 
through the realm from parish to parish with a rake 
and a broom. In some parishes she used the rake, and 
there a few were spared ; in other parishes she used the 

* They are both derived from the Anglo-Saxon helan or helian, to cover^ 
to conceal ; compare the English to kill. 


broom, and there all perished, aud the parishes were 
swept clean. 


The Norse mythology shows that our ancestors had 
a deeply-rooted belief in the immortality of the soul. 
They believed in a state of retribution beyond the grave. 
The dissolution of the body was typified by Balder's 
death, and like the latter it was a result of Loke's 
malignity, just as the devil brought death upon Adam 
and Eve, and through them upon all mankind. 

But while we find the belief in the imperishableness 
of the soul firmly established, the ideas regarding the 
state of existence after death were somewhat unsettled. 
We are soon to present the Eddaic doctrines of future 
life, but in connection with Hel it seems proper to give 
some further explanation of the ideas that our fore- 
fathers entertained of death. Hel's gate is open, or 
ajar, said the old Goths, when the shades of death went 
out through the darkness of night and terrified all; 
but it is also open to receive the child with rosy cheeks 
as well as the man with hoary locks and trembling gait. 

The future state was regarded as a continuation of 
our earthly existence. This is proved by the custom so 
prevalent among the Norsemen of supplying the dead 
with the best part of their property and the first necessi- 
ties of life. A coin was put under the dead man's tongue, 
that he might be able to defray his first expenses with 
it on his way to his final al:)ode. Of course the dead 
went either to Odin or to Hel, but the relation between 
Valhal and Helheim presented difficulties which the 

* For a more complete discussion of this subject the reader is referred 
to Keyser's Religion of the Northmen translated by Barclay Pennock. New 
York, 1854. 


Norsemen strove in various ways to solve. It was said 
that they who are slain in battle go to Odin in Valhal, 
while those who die of sickness or old age go to Hel 
in Helheim. But according to this it would be the kind 
of death alone which decided the soul's future state; 
only those who fell by weapons would ascend to the 
glad abodes of heaven, while all who die of sickness 
would have to wander away to the dark world of the 
abyss, and there were people in whose eyes nothing 
except warlike deeds was praiseworthy. But the Odinic 
mythology, taken as a whole, presents a different view, 
although it must be admitted, as has before repeatedly 
been stated, that bravery was a cardinal virtue among 
our Norse ancestors. 

We remember, from a previous chapter in this book, 
that the spirit or soul of man was a gift of Odin, while 
the body, blood and external beauty were a gift of 
Loder, who afterwards separated from the trinity of 
Odin, Hffiner and Loder and became the mischievous 
Loke. Thus the soul belonged to the spirit-world, or 
Heaven, and the body to the material world, to the Deep. 
The two, soul and body, were joined together in this 
earthly life, but at its close they were separated, and each 
returned to its original source. The soul, with its more 
refined bodily form in which it was thought to be en- 
veloped, went to the home of the gods, while the body, 
with the grosser material life, which was conceived to 
be inseparable from it, went to the abodes of Hel to be- 
come the prey of Loke's daughter. Thus man's being 
was divided between Odin and Hel. Odin, whose chief 
characteristic was god of war, seems to have claimed his 
sliare chiefly from those who fell in battle ; and this 
probably may suggest to us some reason why Balder 
went to Hel. Balder is not a fighting god, he only 

392 THE Norsemen's idea of death, 

shines, conferring numberless blessings on mankind, 
and death finally steals upon him. Odin seems not to 
have much need of his like. Thus death b)' arms came 
to be considered a happy lot, by the zealous followers 
of the asa-faith, for it was a proof of Odin's favor smil- 
ilig upon them. He who fell by arms was called by 
Odin to himself, before Hel laid claim to her share of 
his being; he was Odin's chosen son, who with longing 
was awaited in Valhal, that he, in the ranks of the 
einherjes, might assist and sustain the gods in their last 
battle, in Eagnarok. In accordance with this theory 
we find in the ancient song of praise to the fallen king 
Erik Blood-ax, that Sigmund asks Odin this questions 

Why snatch him then, father, 
From fortune and glory? 
Why not leave him rather 
To fill up his story 
On victory's road 1 


Because no man knows 
When gray wolf* so gory 
His grisly maw shows 
In Asgard's abode; 
Therefore Odin calls 
And Erik fain falls 
To follow his liege lord 
And fight for his god. 

By this Odin means to say, we do not know when 
the Fenris-wolf may come, and therefore we may need 
Erik's assistance. In the same sense the valkyrie is 
made by Eyvind Skaldespiller, in Hakonarmal, to say: 

Now ai'e strengthened the host of the gods, 

Since they have Haakon 

And his valiant army 

Home to themselves brought. 

* The Fenris-wolf. 

THE Norsemen's idea of death. 393 

But because the dead who were slain by arms were 
thought to be called to Valhal, to unite themselves with/ 
the hosts of the eiuherjes, it was not supposed that Hell 
did not get her share in their being ; nor was it supposedA 
on the other hand, that the soul of every one who died/ 
a natural death was shut out from heaven and forced toj 
follow the body down into the abodes of Hel. That it' 
was virtue, on the whole, and not bravery alone, which 
was to be rewarded in another life, and that it was 
wickedness and vice that were to be punished, is distinctly 
shown in the first poem of the Elder Edda, where it 
says of Gimle: 

The virtuous there 

Shall always dwell,/ 

And evermore 

Delights enjoy ; !- 

while perjurers, murderers and adulterers shall wade/ 
through thick venom-streams in Naastrand. But it( 
must be remembered that Gimle and Naastrand had 
reference to the state of things after Eagnarok, the Twi- 
light of the gods ; while Valhal and Hel have reference 
to the state of things between death and Eagnarok, — a 
time of existence corresponding somewhat to what is 
called purgatory by the Catholic church. It may how- 
ever be fairly assumed that the ideas which our ancestors 
had of reward and punishment concerning the preceding 
middle state (purgatory) of the dead, were similar to those 
which they had concerning the state after Eagnarok. 

It was certainly believed that the soul of the virtuous, 
even though death by arms had not released it from the 
body and raised it up to the rank of the real einherjes, still 
found an abode in heaven, either in Valhal or in Vingolf 
or in Folkvang. The skald, Thjodolf of Hvin, makes 
King Vanlande go to Odin, although Hel tortured him ; 

394 THE n"orsemen's idea of death. 

and Egil Skallagrimson, lamenting the death of his 
drowned son, knows that the son has come to the home 
of the gods (Gudheimr), while of himself he says that 
he fearlessly awaits the coming of Hel. 

Of Nanna we read that she went with her husband, 

Balder, to Hel; but the souls of noble women were be- 

/lieved to go to heaven after death. There they found an 

abode with Freyja, and the spirits of maidens with Gef- 

jun. When it is said that Freyja shares the slain with 

' Odin, it may be supposed to mean that the slain, who in 

^ life had loved wives, Avere united to them again with 

On the other hand, it was as certainly believed that 
blasphemy and baseness might shut out even the bravest 
from Vallial. In the Saga of Burnt Njal, Hakon Jarl 
says of the bold but wicked Hrap, who had seduced his 
benefactor's daughter and burned a temple: The man 
who did this shall be banished from Valhal and never 
come thither. 

The reader may think that the statements here pre- 

s^ented show some inconsistency in the theory and plan 

, of salvation according to the doctrines of the Norse 

y mythology. We admit that there seems to be some incon- 
sistency, but let us ask, is not this charge also frequently 
made against the Scriptures ? Is not the church, on this 
very question of the plan of salvation, divided into two 
great parties, the one insisting on faith and the other on 
works ? The one party quoting and requoting Paul, in 
his epistle to the Eomans (iii, 28), where he says, that 
man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law ; 
and the other appealing to Peter's epistle (i, 24), where 
he says, that by works a man is justified, and not by faith 
only. And as the most eminent divines have found har- 
mony in the principles of the Mosaic-Christian religion 

THE Norsemen's idea of death. 395 

as laid down in the Scriptures, so we venture to assert 
that a profound study of the Odinic mythology will 
enable the student to elicit a sublime harmony in its 
doctrines and principles. 

The strict construction of the asa-doctrine appears 
to be this, that although man in the intermediate state, 
between death and Eagnarok, was divided between Odin 
and Hel, yet each one's share of his being, after death, 
was greater or less according to the life he had lived. 
The spirit of the virtuous and the brave had the power 
to bear up to heaven with it after death the better part 
of its corporeal being, and Hel obtained only the dust. 
But he whose spirit, by wickedness and base, sensual lust 
was drawn away from heaven, became in all his being 
the prey of Hel. His soul was not strong enough to 
mount freely up to the celestial abodes of the gods, but 
was drawn down into the abyss by the dust with which 
it had ever been clogged. Perhaps the representation of 
Hel as being, half white and half pale-blue had its origin 
in this thought, that to the good, death appeared as a 
bright (white) goddess of deliverance, but to the wicked, 
as a dark and punishing deity. 

When the drowned came to the halls of Ran, the 
sea-goddess took the part of Hel; that is, Ran claimed 
the body as her part, while the spirit ascended to heaven. 

Bondsmen came to Thor after death. This seems to 
express the idea, that their spirits had not the power to 
mount up with free-born heroes to the higher celestial 
abodes, but were obliged to linger midway, as it were, 
among the low floating clouds under the stern dominion 
of Thor; — a thought painful to the feelings of human- 
ity, but nevertheless not inconsistent with the views of 
our ancestors in ancient times. But when the bonds- 
men, as was the custom in the most ancient Gothic 


times, followed their master on the funeral pile, the 
motive must have been that they would continue to 
serve him in the future life, or their throwing them- 
selves on their master's funeral pile could have no 
meaning whatever. 

The old Norsemen had many beautiful ideas in con- 
nection with death. Thus in the lay of Atle it is said 
iA him wlio dies that he goes to the other light. That 
the dead in the mounds were in a state of conscious- 
ness is illustrated by the following passages from Frid- 
thiof's Saga: 

Now, children, lay us in two lofty graves 
Down by the sea-shore, near the deep-blue waves : 
Their sounds shall to our souls be music sweet. 
Singing our dirge as on the strand they beat. 

AVhen round the hills the pale moonlight is thrown 
And midnight dews fall on the Bauta-stone, 
We '11 sit, O Thorsteu, in our rounded graves 
And speak together o'er the gentle waves. 

Finally, it is a beautiful thought that there was a 
sympathetic union between the dead and the living. 
As the Persians believed that the rivers of the lower 
world grew by the tears of the living and interfered 
with the happiness of the departed, so the Norse peas- 
ant still believes that when a daughter weeps for the 
death of her father she must take care that no tear 
falls on his corpse, for thereby the peace of the deceased 
would be disturbed. We find this same thought ex- 
pressed in the Elder Edda, where Helge says to Sigrun : 

Thou alone causest, Sigrun 
From Sevafjeld, 
That Helge is bathed 
In sorrow's dew. 

loke's punishment. 397. 

Thou weepest, gold-adorned, 
Sunbright woman ! 
Cruel tears, 

Before thou goest to sleep. 
Every bloody tear 
Fell on the king's breast. 
Ice-cold and swelling 
With sorrow. 

Thus also in the old song of Aage and Else: 

Whenever thou grievest, 
My coffin is within 
As livid blood: 
Whenever thou rejoicest. 
My coffin is within 
Filled with fragrant roses. 


Loke and Balder struggled for the government of the 
world. Loke gradually grew victorious in his terrible 
children, while Balder, defenseless and innocent, had 
nothing but his shining purity with which to oppose 
Loke's baseness. Loke's wickedness reached its culmi- 
nating point in the death of Balder and in the hag 
Thok, who with arid tears would wail Balder from Hel. 

According to the Younger Edda it would seem that 
Loke was punished immediately after the death of Balder, 
but according to the Elder Edda the banquet of ^ger 
seems to have taken place after the death of Balder, and 
there Loke was present to pour out in words his enmity 
to the defeated gods. When ^Eger had received the large 
kettle, thatThor had brought him from the giant Hymer, 
he brewed ale for the gods and invited them to a banquet. 
The gods and elves were gathered there, but Thor was 
not present. ./Eger's servants were praised for their atten- 
tiveness and agility. This Loke could not bear to hear, 

398 lore's punishment. 

and he killed one of them by name Funfeng. The 
gods drove him into the woods, but when they had 
seated themselves at the table and had begun to drink 
he came back again, and asked Elder, the other servant 
of ^ger, what the gods talked about at the banquet. 
They talk about their weapons and about their bravery, 
replied Elder, but neither the gods nor the elves speak 
well of you. Then, said Loke, I must go into ^ger's 
hall, to look at the banquet: scolding and evil words- 
bring I to the sons of the gods and mix evil in their ale. 
Then Loke went into the hall ; but when they who were 
there saw who had entered, they were all silent. Then 
said Loke to the gods: 

Thirsty I hither 

To the hall came — 

Long way I journeyed — 

The gods to ask 

Whether one would grant me 

A drink of the precious mead. 

Why are ye silent, gods! 

And sit so stubborn? 

Have ye lost your tongues? 

Give me a seat 

And place at the banquet, 

Or turn me away. 


The gods will never 
Give you a seat 
And place at the banquet; 
Well know the gods 
To whom they will give 
Pleasure at the banquet. 

Then Loke begins to abuse the gods, and remmds 
Odin how they once mixed blood together, — and Vidar 
must yield him his seat. But before Loke drank he 


greeted all the gods and goddesses excepting Brage, who 
occupied the innermost bench. And now Loke pours 
out his abuse upon all the gods and goddesses, much of 
which has been given heretofore. His last quarrel is 
with Sif, the wife of Thor. But then Beyla hears the 
mountains quake and tremble. It is Thor that is coming ; 
and when he enters the hall he threatens to crush every 
bone in Loke's body; and to him Loke finally yields, for 
he knows that Thor carries out his threats. On going 
out he heaps curses upon vEger, and hopes that he 
(^ger) may never more make banquets for the gods, 
but that flames may play upon his realm and burn him 

Loke now fled and hid himself in the mountains. 
There he built him a dwelling with four doors, so that 
he could see everything that passed around him. Often 
in the daytime he assumed the likeness of a salmon and 
concealed himself under the waters of a cascade called 
Fraananger Force, where he employed himself in divin- 
ing and circumventing whatever stratagems the gods 
might have recourse to in order to catch him. One day 
as he sat in his dwelling he took flax and yarn and 
worked them into meshes, in the manner that nets have 
since been made by fishermen. Odin had however, sitting 
in Hlidskjalf, discovered Loke's retreat; and the latter, 
becoming aware that the gods were approaching, threw 
his net into the fire and ran to conceal himself in the 
river. When the gods entered Loke's house, Kvaser, who 
was the most distinguished among them all for his quick- 
ness and penetration, traced out in the hot embers the 
vestiges of the net which had been burnt, and told Odin 
that it must be an invention to catch fish. Whereupon 
they set to work and wove a net after the model they saw 
imprinted in the ashes. This net, when finished, they 

400 loke's punishment. 

threw into the river in which Loke had hid himself. 
Thor held one end of the net and all the other gods laid 
hold of the other end, thus jointly drawing it along the 
stream. Notwithstanding all their precautious the net 
passed over Loke, who had crept between two stones, 
and the gods only perceived that some living thing had 
touched the meshes. They therefore cast their net a 
second time, hanging so great a weight to it that it every- 
where raked the bed of the river. But Loke, perceiving 
that he had but a short distance to the sea, swam onward 
and leapt over the net into the force. The gods instantly 
followed him and divided themselves into two bands. 
Thor, wading along in mid-stream, followed the net, 
whilst the others dragged it along toward the sea. Loke 
then perceived that he had only two chances of escape, — 
either to swim out to the sea, or to leap again over the 
net. He chose the latter, but as he took a tremendous 
leap Thor caught him in his hand. Being however 
extremely slippery, he would have escaped had not Thor 
held him fast by the tail ; and this is the reason why 
salmon have had their tails ever since so fine and slim. 
The gods having thus captured Loke, they dragged 
him without commiseration into a cavern, wherein they 
placed three sharp-pointed rocks, boring a hole through 
each of them. Having also seized Loke's children. Vale 
and Nare, or Narfe, they changed the former into a wolf, 
and in this likeness he tore his brother to pieces and 
devoured him. The gods then made cords of his intes- 
tines, with which they bound Loke on the points of the 
/ rocks, one cord passing under his shoulders, another 
\ under his loins, and a third under his hams, and after- 
Wards transformed these cords to fetters of iron. Then 
the giantess Skade took a serpent and suspended it over 
Ihim in such a manner that the venom should fall into 

loke's punishment. 401 

his face, drop by drop. But Sigyn, Loke's wife, stands 
by him and receives the drops, as they fall, in a cup, 
which she empties as often as it is filled. But while she 
is doing this, venom falls upon Loke, which makes him 
shriek with horror and twist his body about so violently 
that the whole earth shakes ; and this produces what men 
call earthquakes. There will Loke lie until liagnarok. 
Here we have Loke in the form of a salmon. Slip- 
pery as a salmon, is as common an adage in Norseland 
as our American : slippery as an eel. Loke himself makes 
the net by which he is caught and ruined. This is very / 
proper ; sin and crime always bring about their own ^ 
ruin. The chaining of Loke is one of the grandest 
myths in the whole mythology. That Loke represents 
fire in its various forms, becomes clearer with every 
new fact, every new event in his life. Skade is the 
cold mountain stream, that pours its venom upon Loke. 
Sigyn takes much of it away, but some of it will, in 
sjiite of her, come in contact with the subterranean fire, 
and the earth quakes and the geysers spout their scald- 
ing water. But who cannot see human life represented 
in this grand picture? All great convulsions in the 
history of man are brought about in the same manner, i 
and beside the great forces of revolution stand the pious, 
gentle and womanly minds who with the cup of religion 
or with the eloquence of the pure spirit prevent the 
most violent outbreaks of storm among the nations, and 
pour their quieting oils upon the disturbed waters. And 
who does not remember cases at the shrine of the fam- 
ily, where the inevitable consequences of man's folly 
and crime produce convulsive crises, misfortunes and 
misery, which the wife shares, prevents and moderates 
with her soft hand, gentle tears, and soothing words, — 
always cheerful and never growing weary. It is wo- 

402 lore's punishment. 

man's divine work in life, in a qniet manner to bring 
consolation and comfort, and never to despair. 

As the earth and sea in their various manifestations 
are represented by various divinities, so the fire also pre- 
sents various forms. It is celestial, united with Odin; it 
is earthly in the Fenris-wolf, and it is subterranean in 
the chained Loke. That Loke symbolizes fire, is also 
illustrated by the fact that the common people in Nor- 
way, when they hear the fire crackling, say that Loke 
is whipping his children. In a wider sense Loke is in 
one word the evil one, the devil. The common people 
also know Loke as a divinity of the atmosphere. When 
the sun draws water, they say that Loke is drinking 
water. When vapors arise from the earth and float about 
in the atmosphere, this phenomenon is also ascribed to 
Loke. When he sows his oats among the grain, he pro- 
duces a peculiar aerial phenomenon, of which the novel- 
ist Blicher speaks in one of his romances, saying that 
this trembling motion of the air, which the people call 
Loke's oats, confuses and blinds the eyes. Nay, truly it 
confuses and blinds, for we need not take this only in 
a literal sense. It is that motion which shocks the 
nerves of man when the soul conceives evil thoughts; 
it is that nervous concussion which shocks the whole 
system of the criminal when he goes to commit his foul 

Having now given a description of Loke, — having 
painted with words the character of this wily, mischiev- 
ous, sly and deceitful divinity, — we ask, with Petersen, 
where is the painter who will present him in living colors 
on canvas? We want a personal representation of him. 
We want his limbs, his body and his head. Where is 
the painter who can give his chin the proper form, his 
mouth the right shape, paint his dimples with those 


deep and fine wrinkles when he smiles, and do justice to 
his nose and upper lip? Who will paint those delicate 
elevations and depressions of his cheeks, that terrible 
brilliancy of his eyes, his subtle and crafty forehead, and 
his hair at once stiff and wavy? Who will paint this 
immortal youth who yet evei-ywhere reveals his old age, 
or this old man whose face mocks at everything like a 
reckless youth ? Here is a theme without a model, a 
theme for a master of the art. 


The following story from the south of Germany 
illustrates how stories can be remodeled and changed as 
to their external adornment and still preserve their fun- 
damental feature. The reader will not fail to discover 
Loke in the following tradition, entitled Der Stoch im 
Eisen, a story whicli in its most original form must 
date back to the time when Loke was known in Germany. 

Opposite St. Stephen's Tower in Vienna there is 
found, it is said, one of the old landmarks of this city, 
the so-called Stoch im Eisen (the iron post). It is a 
post that has in the course of time become blackened 
and charred, and into which nail after nail has been 
driven so close together that there is not room for a 
single one more, and the post is literally inclosed in an 
iron casing. This covering of iron keeps the dry post 
in an upright position, and near the ground it is fastened 
by an iron ring with an unusually wonderful lock. In 
olden times this post was a landmark, for to it extended 
the great Wienerwald. In connection with it the follow- 
ing tale is told by H. Meinert: 

A young good-looking locksmith apprentice, by name Reinbert, 
had secretly won the heart and become engaged to his master's 
daughter Dorothea ; but there was not much hope that she 


would ever become bis wife. One evening the two lovers agreed 
to meet outside the city ; they forget themselves in their conver- 
sation, in their doubts and "their hopes, and hear not the clock 
that strikes the hour when the gate of the city is to be closed; 
and the lover has forgotten to take money along to get it opened. 
But what a misfortune if they should be shut out, what a disgrace 
to his beloved, if it should become known that she has spent the 
night outside the city, outside of her father's house, in company 
with a man ! Suddenly there arises as it were from the ground 
a pale man, with the contour of his face sharply marked, with 
wonderful flashing eyes, wearing a black cloak and black hat, 
and in the latter waves a cock-feather. Reinbert involuntarily 
shudders as he sees him, but still he does not forget his mis- 
fortune in being shut out of the city ; he therefore explains his 
distress to the stranger, and asks him to lend him enough to pay 
the gate-watch. Like for like ! whispers the stranger into Rein- 
bert's ear ; if I am to help you and your beloved out of your 
distress, then you must promise me upon the salvation of your 
soul never on any Sunday to neglect the holy mass. Reinbert 
hesitates ; but it is in fact a pious promise, and necessity knows 
no laws. He promises, and the gate opens as it were sponta- 

Four weeks later, when Reinbert sat in his workshop, the 
door opens and that strange man enters. Reinbert shudders at 
the sight of him ; but when the stranger does not even care to 
look at him, and only asks for his master, he regains his peace 
of mind. When the apprentices had called the master, the visitor 
ordered an iron fastening, with lock and bolt, and the master is 
willing to undertake the work. But now began the stranger (cun- 
ning as Loke) with a wonderful knowledge of details to mention 
all the different parts of the lock, explained with great eloquence 
the whole plan of it, and took special pains to describe the manner 
in which the springs must necessarily be bent and united ; and al- 
though both the master and the apprentices had to admit that such 
a lock was not without the range of possibilities, — nay, that it 
would indeed be a masterpiece, — still their heads began to swim 
when they tried to think of its wonderful construction and arrange 
the plan in their minds, and they had to admit that they did not 
trust themselves to do the work. Then the stranger's mouth 
assumed a deeply-furrowed, indescribably scornful smile ; and 


he said with contempt: Call yourselves master and apprentices, 
when you do not know how to undertake a work that the youngest 
one among you can do in less than an hour ! The youngest one 
among us, murmured the apprentices ; do you think that Reinbert 
would be able to do it, — he is the youngest one among us? O yes, 
said the stranger, he there can do it, or his look must deceive me 
much. With these words he called out the astounded Reinbert, 
explained to him once more the plan of the lock, and added : If 
you do not save the honor of the smiths, the whole world shall 
know their disgrace ; but if you can get the lock ready within two 
hours, no master will refuse you his daughter, after you have 
saved his reputation. Yes indeed, said the master, if you can 
perform such an impossibility, Dorothea shall be yours. While 
the stranger described the nature of the lock, Reinbert had sunk 
into deep reflections ; to his soul the narrow workshop widened 
into a large plain ; he saw a beautiful, happy future blooming 
before him ; by strange and wonderful voices he heard himself 
styled the master of masters ; and his beloved he saw approaching 
him with the bridal wreath entwined in her locks ; and just at that 
moment he heard his master's words : If you can perform such an 
impossibility, Dorothea shall be yours. He immediately began 
his work ; it seemed as if he were working witli a hundred arms ; 
each blow of the hammer gave form to a part of the work ; by a 
peculiar resounding the hammer-blows seemed to multiply, as if 
more invisible hands hammered with him, while the stranger in 
the red glare of the flame looked like a pillar of fire (Loke). After 
the lapse of an hour the work was finished. Apprentices and 
master looked at it and examined it, shaking their heads, and with 
mouths wide open ; but there was no doubt that Reinbert had 
accomplished a masterpiece never seen before, and the master 
ascribed it to his enthusiasm awakened by his love. The stranger 
took the lock and went ahead ; the master with Reinbert and all 
his apprentices and the members of his family followed, and all 
proceeded to the place where the iron post (Stock im Eisen) now 
stands. Here the stranger placed an iron chain around the post 
and fastened it with Reinbert's lock. When they returned, the 
stranger had disappeared, and with him the key to the marvelous 

"We omit a part of the story, taking only that part 
which has reference to Loke. 


On account of slander, Reinbert had to travel far and wide 
before he finally got his beloved Dorothea. A few days after 
he had returned, the government issued a proclamation to the 
effect that whatever smith could make a key that would open 
that lock should thereby get his diploma of mastership. Rein- 
bert announced himself as a candidate, and repaired to his 
workshop to make the key. But for the first time liis work 
did not seem to succeed. The iron was stubborn and would not 
assume the form required ; and it seemed astonishing to him, 
when he at last had succeeded in giving the key the proper 
form, and put it into the furnace to temper it, it was turned 
and twisted when he took it out again. His imi^atience grew 
into wrath. But when he at length, after many unsuccessful 
attempts, bad got the key ready and put it into the furnace 
and carefully scrutinized to see what it was that thus always 
ruined his work, he saw in the midst of the fire a claw seize 
after the key, and terror-stricken he discovered that disagreeable 
stranger's twisted face (Loke) staring at liim out of the burning 
furnace. He quickly snatched the key away, turned it, seized it 
with the tongs at the other end, and put it into the fire again; 
and lo and behold ! when he took it out the handle was some- 
what twisted, but the head preserved its right shape. (We re- 
member that it was Loke's fault that the handle of Thor's ham- 
mer became rather short.) 

Reinbert now announced to the government that the key 
was ready ; and the day after the government officials and the 
citizens marched in procession to the iron post, and Reinbert's 
key opened the lock. In his enthusiasm at his success he threw 
the key high up in the air, but to everybody's surprise it did 
not come down again. It was sought for everywhere, but could 
nowhere be found, and Reinbert had to promise to make a new 
one some time. To commemorate the fact that it had been pos- 
sible to open the lock he drove a nail into the wooden post, and 
since that time every smith has done the same when he left 
Vienna ; thus this post was formed with its numberless nails. 

Reinbert became a master and married his beloved. Up to 
this time he had kept his promise and had attended upon the 
holy mass every Sunday ; he began to drink and gamble, but he 
conscientiously continued to keep his promise. Finally it hap- 
pens that he once stayed a little too long at the gambling- 


house, and hastens terrified in order not to come too late to 
church. But the door of St. Stephen's church is closed. Out- 
side sits an old woman (Loke assumed the guise of a woman* 
after Balder's death), who, in answer to his question, informs 
him that mass is out. Filled with deadly anguish he rushes 
back to his comrades, who laughed at him and insisted that, as 
mass began at half-past eleven o'clock, and as it was only three- 
quarters past eleven, the mass could not yet be over. He has- 
tens back again; the church-door is now open, but at the very 
moment he enters, the priest leaves the altar — the mass is over. 
The old woman rises, seizes him by the arms, and his soul de- 
parts from him. 

Thus the myth develops into traditionary story, and 
one story begets another; they wander about from the 
south to the north and from the north to the south, 
and change with the times, reminding us of the various 
manifestations of hfe; reminding us how human things 
circulate and develop, each inextricably interwoven with 
all, and always reminding us, too, that there is a heaven 
above the earth and an existence beyond what is allotted 
to us mortals on earth. 


We have now completed the second part of our 
work, and witnessed the life and exploits of the gods. 
It remains now to sum up briefly the main features of, 
and the principal lessons taught in, this portion of the 

We cannot fail to have observed that the life of the 
gods is, in the first place, a reflection of the workings/ 
of visible nature, and, in the second place, a reflection! 
and foreshadowing of the life of man, particularly of\ 
life in its various manifestations in the history of the | 
Gothic race. We have also witnessed how wonderfully 
the interests and works of the gods — nay, how abso- 



lately the gods themselves — are interlinked with each 
other, — that centralizing thought which, as has been 
said before, forms one of the most prominent char- 
acteristics of Norse or Gothic mythology, thought and 

We have seen how the divinities and demons, after 
having been created, enter upon various activities, con- 
tend with each other and are reconciled, and how new 
beings are developed in this struggle, all destined to 
fight on one side or the other in the final conflict. 

The myth reflects nature and society, the one inex- 
tricably in communion with the other; and in the de- 
velopment of nature and society we find three relations: 
he relation of the asas to the giants, the relation of the 
sas to the vans, and the relation of Loke to Odin. The 
sas and giants try to unite, but meet with poor success, 
their natures are too opposite. The union of the asas 
and vans is accomplished with but little difficulty ; while 
between Odin and Loke there is a tendency to separate 
more and more. The beginning of warfare between the 
gods and the giants is the beginning of nature's devel- 
opment; the giants storm the heavens and are repulsed; 
this struggle lasts through life, and in it Sleipner is 
produced. Later, begins the war between the asas and 
vans, which ends in peace, and with this peace begins 
the development of society; the asas and vans together 
forming a series of beautiful myths, that have reference 
to war, to the cultivation of the earth, to the civilizing 
influences of the water, to the greater development of 
the mind and heart, — that is, to knowledge, love, hu- 
manity and peace, — the object of which is reconcilia- 
tion, reached by labor and struggles. But enmity soon 
arises among the gods themselves. Odin's union with 
Loke is dissolved. In the midst of the good there is 


evil. The evil proceeds from the good by separation, 
by taking a wrong course. The unity of the spirit 
is destroyed when anything tears itself loose from it 
and assumes an independent position in opposition to 
it. Loke separates himself from Odin and develops 
himself independently. He acts like Odin; he perme- 
ates all nature and the soul of man ; but he does it in- 
dependently, and the result is that the powers of evil 
spread over the earth in the form of Loke's children. 
Everything becomes wild and tumultuous. Fire rages 
in its frantic fury in the character of the Fenris-wolf. 
The Midgard-serpent represents the furious convulsions 
of the sea; cowardice seizes the heart and begets the 
pale Hel, death without conflict, life as a mere shadow. 
Thus it goes on. Knowledge rightly used is a blessing, but 
unconstrained by prudence it degenerates into cunning 
and deceitfulness ; killing is honorable, but unconstrained 
by justice and valor it becomes foul murder; to break a 
promise that can no longer be kept is proper, but when 
done recklessly it is perjury. We find, throughout the 
life of the gods, light and darkness well defined and 
distinctly separated. Loke fluctuates between the two; 
he gradually leaves light and unites himself to darkness. 
The darkness of night supplants the light of day; the 
gloomy winter overcomes the shining summer. The gods 
learn that they are subject to the infirmities of old age ; 
the rejuvenating Idun sinks into the abyss. From the 
depths below, Odin receives warnings that the light of 
life may be extinguished. Loke begins his conflict with 
Balder; finally his stratagem and cunning gain a vic- 
tory, and all the sorrowing of nature is in vain. Loke 
is chained, but Balder does not return from Hel. Vale 
has avenged his brother's death, but the end of life is 
at hand. And now we are prepared for Eagnarok, 
followed by the regeneration of the earth. 



Litis sjaum aptr, 

En ekki fram ; 

Skyggir Skuld fyrir sjon. 



THE final destruction of the world, and regeneration 
of gods and men, is called Eagnarok; that is, the 
Twilight of the gods {Ragna, from regin, god, and rohr, 

The journey through life has been a long one, and 
yet we have not reached the end, for the end is also the 
beginning. Death is the center, where the present and 
future existence meet. When life ends, there is a 
change, there comes a new day and a sun without a 

In comparing the Greek mythology with the Norse, 
it was stated, that the Norse has a theoktonic myth, 
while the Greek lacks the final act of the grand drama. 
The Greeks knew of no death of the gods; their gods 
were immortal. A.nd yet, what were they but an ideal 
conception of the forms of life ? And this life with all 
its vanity, pomp and glory, the Greek loved so dearly, 
that he thought it must last forever. He imagined an 
everlasting series of changes. But what will then the 
final result be ? Shall the thundering Zeus forever con- 
tinue to thunder ? Shall the faithless Aphrodite forever 
be unfaithful? Shall Typhon forever go on with his 
desolations? Shall the sinner continue to sin forever, 
and shall the world continue without end to foster and 
nourish evil? These are questions that find no satis- 
factory answer in the Greek mythology. 



Among the Norsemen, on the other hand, we find 
in their most ancient records a clearly expressed faith 
in the perishableness of all things; and we find this 
faith at every step that the Norsemen has taken. The 
origin of this faith we seek in vain; it conceals itself 
beneath the waters of the primeval fountains of their 
thoughts and aspirations. They regarded death as but 
the middle of a long life. They considered it cowardice 
to spare a life that is to return ; they thought it folly to 
care for a world that must necessarily perish; while 
they knew that their spirits would be clothed with 
increased vigor in the other world. Happy were they 
who lived beneath the polar star, for the greatest fear 
that man knows, the fear of death, disturbed them not. 
They rushed cheerfully upon the sword; they entered 
the battle boldly, for, like their gods, who every moment 
looked forward to the inevitable Eagnarok, they knew 
that life could be purchased by a heroic death. 

The very fact that the gods in the creation proceeded 
from the giant Ymer foreshadowed their destruction. 
The germ of death was in their nature from the begin- 
ning, and this germ would gradually develop as their 
strength gradually became wasted and consumed. That 
which is born must die, but that which is not born 
cannot grow old. 

The gradual growth of this germ of death, and cor- 
responding waste of the strength of the gods, is pro- 
foundly sketched throughout the mythology. The gods 
cannot be conquered, unless they make themselves weak ; 
but such is the very nature of things, that they must do 
this. To win the charming Gerd, Frey must give away 
his sword, but when the great final conflict comes he 
has no weapon. In order that the Penris-wolf may be 
chained, Tyr must risk his right hand, and he loses it. 


How shall he then fight in Kagnarok? Balder could 
not have died, had not the gods been blind and presump- 
tuous; their thoughtlessness put weapons into the hands 
of their enemy. Hoder would never have thrown the 
fatal mistletoe, had not their own appointed game been 
an inducement to him to honor his brother. When Loke 
became separated from Odin, the death of the gods was a 
foregone conclusion. 

The imperfection of nature is also vividly depicted 
in the Eddas. The sun was so scorching hot that the 
gods had to place a shield before it; the fire was so 
destructive that the gods had to chain it, in order that 
it might not bring ruin upon the whole world. Life, 
after the natural death, was not continued only in the 
shining halls of Valhal, but also in the subterranean 
regions among the shades of Hel. 

Our old Gothic fathers, in the poetic dawn of our 
race, investigated the origin and beginning of nature 
and time. The divine poetic and imaginative spark in 
them lifted them up to the Eternal, to that wonderful 
secret fountain which is the source of all things. They 
looked about them in profound meditation to find the 
image and reflection of that glorious harmony which 
their soul in its heavenly flight had found, but in all 
earthly things they discovered strife and warfare. When 
the storms bent the pine trees on the mountain tops, 
and when the foaming waves rolled in gigantic fury 
against the rocky cliffs, the Norseman saw strife. When 
the growl of the bear and the howl of the wolf blended 
with the moaning of the winds and the roaring of the 
waters, he heard strife. In unceasing conflict with the 
earth, with the beasts and with each other, he saw men 
stand, conquer, and fall. If he lifted his weary eye 
toward the skies, he saw the light struggling with dark- 


ness and with itself. When light arose out of darkness, 
it was greeted with enthusiasm; when it sank again 
into darkness, its rays were broken and it dissolved in 
glimmering colors; and if he looked down into the 
heart of man, into his own breast, he found that all 
this conflict of opposing elements in the outward world 
did but faintly symbolize that terrible warfare pervading 
and shattering his whole being. Well might he long 
for peace, and can we wonder that this deep longing 
for rest and peace, which filled his heart in the midst 
of all his struggles, — can we wonder, we say, that his 
longing for peace found a grand expression in a final 
conflict through which imperishableness and harmony 
were attained ? 

This final conflict, this dissolution of nature's and 
life's disharmony, the Edda presents to us in the death 
of the gods, which is usually, as stated, called Eagnarok. 

There is nothing more sublime in poetry than the 
description, in the Eddas, of Eagnarok. It is preceded 
by ages of crime and terror. The vala looks down 
into Niflheim, and 

There saw slie wade 

In the heavy streams 

Men — foul murderers. 

And perjurers, 

And them who other's wives 

Seduce to sin. 

The growing depravity and strife in the world pro- 
claim the approach of this great event. First there is 
a winter called Fimbul-winter, during which snow will 
fall from the four corners of the world ; the frosts will 
be very severe, the winds piercing, the weather tem- 
pestuous, and the sun will impart no gladness. Three 
such winters shall pass away without being tempered 


by a single summer. Three other similar winters follow, 
during which war and discord will spread over the whole 
earth. Brothers for the sake of mere gain shall kill 
each other, and no one shall spare either his parents 
or his children. Thus the Elder Edda: 

Brothers slay brothers ; 
Sisters' children 
Shed each other's blood. 
Hard is the world ; 
Sensual sin grows huge. 
There are sword-ages, ax -ages; 
Shields are cleft in twain ; 
Storm-ages, murder-ages ; 
Till the world falls dead. 
And men no longer spare 
Or pity one another. 

Then shall happen such things as may truly be 
regarded as great miracles. The Fenris-wolf shall devour 
the sun, and a severe loss will that be to mankind. 
The other wolf* will take the moon, and this, too, will 
cause great mischief. Then the stars shall be hurled 
from the heavens, and the earth shall be shaken so 
violently that trees will be torn up by the roots, the 
tottering mountains will tumble headlong from their 
foundations, and all bonds and fetters will be shivered 
to pieces. The Fenris-wolf then breaks loose and the 
sea rushes over the earth on account of the Midgard- 
serpent writhing in giant rage and gaining the land. 
On the waters floats the ship Naglfar (nail-ship), which 
is constructed of the nails of dead men. For this reason 
great care should be taken to die with pared nails, for 
he who dies with his nails unpared supplies materials 
for the building of this ship, which both gods and men 
wish may be finished as late as possible. But in this 

* Moongarm. See Vocabulary. 


flood shall Naglfar float, and the giant Hrym be its 

The Fenris-wolf advances and opens his enormous 
mouth; the lower jaw reaches to -the earth and the 
upper one to heaven, and he would open it still wider 
had he room to do so. Fire flashes from his eyes and 
nostrils. The Midgard-serpent, placing himself by the 
side of the Fenris-wolf, vomits forth floods of poison, 
which fill the air and the waters. Amidst this devasta- 
tion the heavens are rent in twain, and the sons of 
Muspel come riding through the opening in brilliant 
array. Surt rides first, and before and behind him 
flames burning fire. His sword outshines the sun itself. 
Bifrost (the rainbow), as they ride over it, breaks to 
pieces. Then they direct their course to the battle-field 
called Vigrid. Thither repair also the Fenris-wolf and 
the Midgard-serpent, and Loke with all the followers of 
Hel, and Hrym with all the frost-giants. But the sons 
of Muspel keep their effulgent bands apart on the battle- 
field, which is one hundred miles (rasts) on each side. 

Meanwhile Heimdal arises, and with all his strength 
he blows the Gjallar-horn to arouse the gods, who assem- 
ble without delay. Odin then rides to Mimer's fountain 
and consults Mimer how he and his warriors are to enter 
into action. The ash Ygdrasil begins to quiver, nor is 
there anything in heaven or on earth that does not fear 
and tremble in that terrible hour. The gods and all the 
einherjes of Valhal arm themselves with speed and sally 
forth to the field, led on by Odin with his golden helmet, 
resplendent cuirass, and spear called Gungner. Odin 
places himself against the Fenris-wolf Thor stands by 
his side, but can render him no assistance, having him- 
self to combat the Midgard-serpent. Frey encounters 
Surt, and terrible blows are exchanged ere Frey falls; 


and he owes his defeat to his not having that trusty 
sword which he gave to Skirner. That day the dog 
Garni, that had been chained in the Gnipa-cave, breaks 
loose. He is the most fearful monster of all, and attacks 
Tyr, and they kill each other. TlK>r gains great renown 
for killing the Midgard-serpent, but at the same time, 
retreating nine paces, he falls dead upon the spot, suffo- 
cated with the floods of venom which the dying serpent 
vomits forth upon him. The wolf swallows Odin, but 
at that instant Vidar advances, and setting his foot upon 
the monster's lower jaw he seizes the other vrith his hand, 
and thus tears and rends him till he dies. Vidar is able 
to do this because he wears those shoes which have 
before been mentioned, and for which stuff has been 
gathered in all ages, namely, the shreds of leather which 
are cut off to form the toes and heels of shoes; and it 
is on this account that those who desire to render 
service to the gods should take care to throw such shreds 
away. Loke and Heimdal fight and kill each other. 
Then Surt flings fire and flame over the world. Smoke 
wreathes up around the all-nourishing tree (Ygdrasil), 
the high flames play against the heavens, and earth 
consumed sinks down beneath the sea. 

All this is vividly and sublimely presented in the 
Elder Edda, thus: 

East of Midgard in the Ironwood 

The old hag* sat, 

Fenrer's terrible 

Race she fostered. 

Onef of them 

Shall at last 

In the guise of a troll 

Devour the moon. 

* Angerboda. See p. 179. + Moongarm. See p. 180. 


It feeds on the bodies 
Of men, when they die : 
The seats of the gods 
It stains with red blood: 
The sunshine blackens 
In th©- summers thereafter 
And the weather grows bad — 
Know ye now more or not? 

The hag's watcher, 
The glad Edger, 
Sat on the hill-top 
And played his harp; 
Near him crowed 
In the bird-wood 
A fair-red cock 
Which Fjalar hight. 

Among the gods crowed 
The gold-combed cock, 
He who wakes in Valhal 
The hosts of heroes ; 
Beneath the earth 
Crows another. 
The root-red cock. 
In the halls of Hel. 

Loud barks Garm 
At Gnipa-cave ; 
The fetters are severed, 
The wolf is set free, — 
Vala knows the future. 
More does she see 
Of the victorious gods 
Terrible fall. 

The wolf referred to in the first strophe is Maane- 
garm (the moon-devourer), of whom we have made 
notice before. The hag in the Ironwood is Angerboda 
(anguish-boding), with whom Loke begat children. Evil 
IS being developed. The gods become through Loke 


united with the giants. The wood is of iron, hard and 
barren; the children are ravenous wolves. On the hill- 
top sits Egder (an eagle), a storm-eagle, the howling 
wind that rushes through the wood, and howling wind 
is the music produced upon his harp. The cock is a 
symbol of fire, and it is even to this day a common 
expression among the Norsemen, when a fire breaks 
out, that the red cock is crowing over the roof of the 
house. There are three cocks, one in the bird-wood, 
one in heaven, and one in the lower regions with Hel. 
The idea then is, that the cock as a symbol of fire an- 
nounces the coming of Eagnarok in all the regions of the 
world. The vala continues: 

Mimer's sons piny ; 

To battle the gods are called 

By the ancient 


Loud blows Heimdal, 

His sound is in the air ; 

Odin talks 

With the head of Mimer. 

Quivers then Ygdrasil, 
The strong-rooted ash ; 
Rustles the old tree 
When the giant gives way. 
All things tremble 
In the realms of Hel, 
Till Surfs son 
Swallows up Odin. 

How fare the gods? 

How fare the elves ? 

Jotunheim shrieks. 

The gods hold Thing; 

The dwarfs shudder 

Before their cleft caverns. 

Where behind rocky walls they dwell. 

Know ye now more or not? 


Loud barks Garm* 
At Gnipa-cave; 
The fetters are severed, 
The wolf is set free, — 
Vala knows the future. 
More does she see 
Of the victorious gods' 
Terrible fall. 

From the east drives Hrym, 

Bears his child before him ; 

Jormungander welters 

In giant fierceness ; 

The waves thunder; 

The eagle screams, 

Eends the corpses with pale beak, 

And Naglfar is launched. 

A ship from the east nears. 
The hosts of Muspel 
Come o'er the main. 
But Loke is pilot. 
All grim and gaunt monsters 
Conjoin with the wolf. 
And before them all goes 
The brother of Byleist.f 

From the south wends Surt 
With seething fire ; 
The sun of the war-god 
Shines in his sword ; 
Mountains together dash. 
And f rigliten the giant-maids ; 
Heroes tread the paths to Hel, 
And heaven in twain is rent. 

Over Hlinif then shall come 
Another woe. 
When Odin goes forth 
The wolf to combat, 

•Hel's dog. tLoke. JOne of Frigg's maid-servants. 


And he * who Bele slew 
'Gainst Surt rides ; 
Then will Frigg's 
Beloved husband f fall. 

Loud barks Garm 

At Guipa-cave ; 

Tlie fetters are severed, 

The wolf is set free, — 

Vala knows the future. 

More does she see 

Of the victorious gods' 

Terrible fall. 

Then Vidar, the great son 

Of Victory's father. 

Goes forth to fight 

With the ferocious beast ; 

With firm grasp his sword 

In the giant-born monster's heart 

Deep he plants, 

And avenges his father. 

Then the famous son | 

Of Hlodyn § comes ; 

Odin's son comes 

To fight with the serpent ; 

Midgard's ward 1| 

In wrath slays the serpent. 

Nine paces away 

Goes the son of Fjorgyn ; 

He totters, wounded 

By the fierce serpent. 

All men 

Abandon the earth. 

The sun darkens, 

The earth sinks into the ocean ; 

The lucid stars 

From heaven vanish ; 

*Frey. tOdin. :}; Thor. § Another name for Frigg. | Defender. 


Fire and vapor 
Rage toward heaven ; 
High flames 
Involve the skies. 

Loud barks Garm 

At Gnipa-cave ; 

The fetters are severed, 

The wolf is set free, — 

Vala knows the future. 

More does she see 

Of the victorious gods' 

Terrible fall. 

These strophes are taken from Voluspa (the prophecy 
of the vala) ; and besides these we also have a few 
strophes of the lay of Vafthrudner, in the Elder Edda, 
referring to the final conflict: 


Tell me, Gagnraad,* 
Since on the floor thou wilt 
Prove thy proficiency. 
How that plain is called. 
Where in fight shall meet 
Surt and the gentle gods? 


Vigrid the plain is called, 

Where in fight shall meet 

Surt and the gentle gods ; 

A hundred rasts it is 

On every side. 

That plain is to them decreed. 

And in the second part of this same poem, in which 
Odin asks and Vafthrudner answers: 

* Odin. 



What of Odin will 
The end of life be, 
When the powers perish? 

The wolf will 
The father of men devour ; 
Him Vidar will avenge: \ 

He his cold jaws 
Will cleave 
In conflict with the wolf. 

The terrible dog mentioned several times is Hel's 
bloody-breasted and murderous houud. Like the Fenris- 
wolf and Loke, this dog had been bound at G-nipa-cave, 
although the Eddas tell us nothing about when or how 
this was done. 

When it is said that another woe comes over Hlin, 
the maid-servant is placed for Frigg herself; and the 
former woe implied is the death of Balder, the other woe 
meaning the approaching death of Odin. 

It is worthy of notice, that as this final conflict is 
inevitable, the gods proceed to it, not with despair and 
trembling, but joyfully and fearlessly as to a game, for 
it is the last. Odin rides to the battle adorned; he 
knows that he must die, and for this very reason he 
decorates himself as does a bride for the wedding, and 
the gods follow him ; even those who are defenseless 
voluntarily expose themselves on the plain of Vignd. 
They are determined to die. 

Which are the powers that now oppose each other? 
On the one side we have those who have ruled and 
blessed heaven and earth ; and fighting against them 
we find their eternal enemies, those powers which had 
sprung into being before heaven and earth were created, 


and those which had developed iu the earth and in the 
sea, and which no asa-might can conquer. From Mus- 
pelheini come the sons of Muspel in shining armor; 
from Muspel's world came originally the sun, moon and 
stars. It is a fundamental law in nature that all things 
destroy themselves, all things contain an inherent force 
that finally brings ruin ; that is the meaning of perish- 
ableness or corruption. A second host consists of the 
frost-giants. From the body of the old giant Ymer 
was formed the earth, the sea, the mountains, the trees, 
etc. ; the giants must therefore assist in the destruction 
of their own work. The third host is Loke and his 
children, born in time and the offspring of that which 
was created. They are the destructive elements in that 
which was created ; the ocean becoming a fierce serpent, 
and the fire a devouring wolf Loke himself is the 
volcanic fire which the earth has produced within its 
bowels; and then there is all that is cowardly repre- 
sented by the pale Hel with her bloodless shadows, the 
life which has turned into shadowy death. All these 
forces oppose each other. Those who fought in life 
mutually conquer each other in death. Odin, whose 
heaven is the source of all life, is slain by the Fenris- 
wolf, the earthly fire, Avhich has brought all kinds of 
activities into the life of man; but the wolf, after he 
has conquered, falls again at the hands of Vidar, the 
imperishable, incorruptible force of nature. In this duel 
heaven and earth are engaged. The god of the clouds, 
Thor, contends with the Midgard-serpent, — many a 
struggle they have had together; now the clouds and 
ocean mutually destroy each other. Since the death of 
Balder, Frey is the most pure and shining divinity. 
His pure and noble purpose and longing are still within 
him, but his sword, his power, is gone. Hence he is 


stricken down by Surt, the warder of Muspelheim. 
Heimdal stretched his brilhant rainbow over the earth, 
Loke his variegated stream of fire within tlie earth; 
the one proclaiming mercies and blessings, the other 
destruction; both perish in Ragnarok. Hel and her 
pale host also betake themselves to the final contest, 
but the Eddas say nothing about their taking part in the 
fight. How can they ? They are nothing but empti- 
ness, the mere vanity of the heart, in which there is no 
substance ; they are but the darkness which enwraps the 
earth, and are not capable of deeds. 

Thus is Ragnarok ! The great antagonism pervading 
the world is removed in a final struggle, in which the 
contending powers mutually destroy eacli other. Rag- 
narok is an outbreak of all the chaotic powers, a conflict 
between them and the established order of creation. 
Fire, water, darkness and death work together to destroy 
the world. The gods and their enemies meet in a uni- 
versal, world-embracing wrestle and duel, and mutually 
destroy each other. The flames of Surt, the supreme 
fire-god, complete the overthrow, and the last remnant 
of the consumed earth sinks into the ocean. 



BUT when the heavens and the earth and the whole 
world have been consumed in flames, when the 
gods and all the einherjes and all mankind have per- 
ished, — what then? Is not man immortal? Are not 
all men to live in some world or other forever? The 
vala looks again, and 

She sees arise 
The second time, 
From the sea, the earth. 
Completely green : 
Cascades do fall. 
The eagle soars. 
From lofty mounts 
Pursues its prey. 

The gods convene 

On Ida's plains, 

And talk of the powerful 

Midgard-serpent ; 

They call to mind 

The Fenris-wolf 

And the ancient runes 

Of the mighty Odin. 

Then again 

The wonderful 

Golden tablets 

Are found in the grass: 



In time's morning 
The leader of the gods 
And Odin's race 
Possessed them. 

The fields unsown 

Yield their growth; 

All ills cease ; 

Balder comes. 

Hoder and Balder, 

Those heavenly gods, 

Dwell together in Hropt's* halls. 

Conceive ye this or not? 

Vidar and Vale survive ; neither the flood nor Surfs 
flume has harmed them, and they dwell on the plain of 
Ida, where Asgard formerly stood. Thither come the 
sons of Thor, Mode and Magne, bringing with them 
their father's hammer, Mjolner. Hoener is there also, 
and compreliends the future. Balder and Hoder sit and 
converse together ; they call to mind their former knowl- 
edge and the perils they underwent, and the fight with 
the wolf Fenrer, and with the Midgard-serpent. The 
sons of Hoder and Balder inhabit the wide Wind-home. 
Tlie sun brings forth a daughter more lovely than her- 
self, before she is swallowed by Fenrer; and when the 
gods have perished, the daughter rides in her mother's 
heavenly course. 

During the conflagration caused by Surfs fire, a 
woman by name Lif (life) and a man named Lifthraser 
lie concealed in Hodmimer's forest. The dew of the 
dawn serves them for food, and so great a race shall 
spring from them that their descendants shall soon 
spread over the whole earth. 

Then the vala 

* Odin's. 


Sees a hall called Gimle ; 
It outshines the sun, 
Of gold its roof ; 
It stands in heaven : 
The virtuous there 
Shall always dwell. 
And evermore 
Delights enjoy. 

Toward the north on the Nida-mountains stands a 
large hall of shining gold, which the race of Sindre, 
that is the dwarfs, occupy. There is also another hall 
called Brimer, which is also in heaven, in the region 
Okolner, and there all who delight in quaffing good drink 
will find plenty in store for them. Good and virtuous 
beings inhabit all these halls. 

But there is also a place of punishment. It is called 
NaaStrand (strand of dead bodies). In Naastrand there 
is a vast and terrible structure, with doors that face to 
the north. It is built entirely of the backs of serpents, 
wattled together like wicker-work. But all the serpents' 
heads are turned toward the inside of the hall, and con- 
tinually vomit forth floods of venom, in which wade all 
those who have committed murder, perjury, or adultery. 
The vala, in the Elder Edda, 

Saw a hall 

Far from the sun. 

On the strand of dead bodies, 

With doors toward the north. 

Venom drops 

Through the loopholes ; 

Formed is that hall 

Of wreathed serpents. 

There saw she wade 
Through heavy streams, 
And murderers 


And adulterers ; 

There Nidliug sucked 

The bodies of the dead 

And the wolf tore them to pieces. 

Conceive ye this or not? 

Then comes the mighty one* 
To the great judgment; 
From heaven he comes. 
He who guides all things : 
Judgments he utters ; 
Strifes he appeases. 
Laws he ordains 
To flourish forever. 

Or as it is stated in Hyndla's lay, after she lias de- 
scribed Heimdal, the sublime protector of the perishable 

world : 

Then comes another 
Yet more mighty, 
But him dare I not 
Venture to name ; 
Few look further forward 
Than to the time 
When Odin goes 
To meet the wolf. 

And when the vala in Voluspa, beginning with the 
primeval time, has unveiled, in the most profound sen- 
tences, the whole history of the universe, — when she 
has gone through every period of its development down 
through Kagnarok and the Regeneration, the following 
Ib her last vision: 

There comes the dark 
Dragon f flying. 
The shining serpent 
From the Nida-mountains 
In the deep. 

* The Supreme God. t Nidbug. 


Over the i^lain it flies; 

Dead bodies Nidliug 

Drags in liis wliizzing plumage,- 

Now must Nidliug- sink. 

Thus ends the vala's prophecy (vdhisjjd.) She has 
revealed the decrees of the Father of Nature; she has 
described the conflagration and renovation of the world, 
and now proclaims the fate of the good and of the evil. 

The world and the things in it perish, but not the 
forces. Some of the gods reappear in the regenerated 
earth, while some do not. They who reappear are men- 
tioned in pairs, excepting Hceuer, who is alone. Balder 
and Hoder are together; likewise Vidar and Vale, and 
Mode and Magne. Neither Odin nor Thor nor the vans 
appear. They perished with the world, for they repre- 
sented the developing forces of this world; they were 
divinities representing that which came into being and 
had existence in it. On the other hand. Balder and 
Hoder came back from Hel. They represent light and 
darkness; but they are alike in this respect, that they 
are nothing substantial, nothing real, they are only the 
condition for something to be, or we might say they are 
the space, the firmament, in which something may exist. 
They are the two brothers whose sons shall inhabit the 
wide Wind-home. Thus when heaven and earth have 
passed away there is nothing remaining but the wide 
expanse of space with light and darkness, who not only 
rule together in perfect harmony, but also permeate each 
other and neutralize each other. 

Hoener comes back. He was originally one of the 
trinity with Odin and Loder (Loke); but the gods re- 
ceived Njoi'd as a hostage from the vans, and gave to 
the vans in return Hoener, as a security of friendship 
between them. This union between the asas and vans 


is now dissolved. Hoener has nothing more to do among 
the vans. Their works all perished with the old earth. 
He is the developing, creative force that is needed now 
in the new world as it was in the old. 

Vidar is the imperishable force in original nature, 
that is, in crude nature, but at the same time united 
with the gods. He is the connecting link between gods 
and giants. His mother was Grid, a giantess, and his 
father was Odin. The strong Vale begotten of Odin and 
Eind (the slumbering earth) is the imperishable force 
of nature which constantly renews itself in the earth as 
a habitation of man. Both Vidar and Vale are avenging 
gods. Vale avenges the death of Balder, and Vidar the 
death of Odin, and thus we have in Vidar and Vale rep- 
resentatives of the imperishable force of nature in two 
forms, the one without and the other within the domain 
of man, both purified and renewed in the regenerated 

In the atmosphere and in the dense clouds reigned 
Thor, with his flashing fire and clattering thunder. 
Thunder and lightning have passed away, but the forces 
that produced them, courage and strength, are preserved 
in Thor's sons, Mode (courage) and Magne (strength). 
They have their father's hammer, Mjolner, and with it 
they can strike to the right and to the left, permeating 
the new heaven and the new earth. What a well of 
profound thought are the Eddas! 

The parents of the new race of men are called Lif 
and Lifthraser. Life cannot perish. It lies concealed in 
Hodmimer's forest, which the flame of Surt was not able 
to destroy. The new race of mankind seem to possess a 
far nobler nature than the former, for they subsist on 
the morning dew. 

Do Mimer and Surt live ? They are the fundameutal 


elements of fire and water. The Eddas are not clear on 
this pomt, but an affirmative answer seems to be suggested 
in the fact that the better part of every being is preserved. 

The good among men find their reward in Ginile; 
for he that made man gave him a soiil, whicli shall live 
and never perish, though the body shall have mouldered 
away or have been burnt to ashes; and all that are 
righteous shall dwell with him in the place called Gimle, 
says the Younger Edda. The dwarfs have their Sindre, 
and their golden hall on the Nida-mountains ; and the 
giant has his shining drinking hall, Brimer, but it is 
situated in Okoluer (not cool), where there is no more 

The Elder Edda seems to point out two places of 
punishment for men. Giants and dwarfs are not pun- 
shed, for they act blindly, they have no free will. But 
the wicked of mankind go to Naastrand and wade in 
streams of serpent-venom, and thence they appear to be 
washed down into Hvergelmer, that horrible old kettle, 
where their bodies are torn by Nidhug, the dragon of the 
uttermost darkness. 

There is a day of judgment. The good and bad are 
separated. The god, Avhom the Edda dare not name, is 
the judge. The Younger Edda once calls him Allfather, 
for he is to the new world what Odin was to the old. He 
was before the beginning of time, and at the end of time 
he enters upon his eternal reign. 

The reward is eternal. Is the punishment also eter- 
nal ? When light and darkness (Balder and Hoder) can 
live peaceably together, — when darkness can resolve itself 
into light, — cannot then the evil be dissolved in the 
good ; cannot the eternal streams of goodness wash away 
the evil? We think so, and the Edda seems to justify 
us in this thought; at least the Elder Edda seems to 


take this view of the subject. Listen again to the last 
vision of the vala: 

TJiere comes the dark 

Dragon flying. 

The shining serpent 

From the Nida-mountains 

In the deep. 

Over the plain it flies; 

Dead bodies Nidhug 

Drags in his whizzing plumage, — 

Ifow must Nidhug sink* 

When there is an intermediate state, a transition, a 
purification, a purgatory, then this purification must 
sooner or later be accomplished ; and that is the day of 
the great judgment, tvJien Nidlnig must sink, and never- 
more lift his Avings loaded with dead bodies. This idea 
is beautifully elaborated in Zendavista. The Edda has 
it in a single line, but the majority of its interpreters 
have not comprehended it. We who are permeated by 
the true Christian spirit, we know how great joy there 
is in heaven over a sinner who is converted; we know 
the God of mercy, who does not desire the ruin of a 
single sinner, and the God of omnipotence, who with 
his hand is able to press the tears of repentance from 
.the heart, though it be hard as steel; we comprehend 
why he lets Nidhug sink down. All darkness shall be 
cleared up and be gilded by the shining light of heaven. 

* We present this view of the subject from N. M. Petersen, who suggests 
that the common reading of this passage Iwn ought to be hann,— that is he, not 
she. In our translation we have supplied the noun Nidhug, while if we had 
followed the other authorities we would have used the noun vala. Petersen 
remarks that the word sink (sokkvask) is a natural expression when applied to 
the dragon, who einks into the abyss, but forced and unnatural when applied 
to the vala. He also quotes another passage (the last line in Brynhild's Ilel- 
ride, where Brynhild says to the hag: Sink thou {sokkstu !) of giantkind!) 
from the Elder Edda which corroborates his view. As the reader will observe 
we have adopted Petersen's view entirely. 


Such was the origin, the development, the destruc- 
tion and regeneration of the world. And now, says the 
Younger Edda, as it closes the deluding of King Gylfe, 
if you have any further questions to ask, I know not 
who can answer you; for I never heard tell of anyone 
who could relate what will happen in the other ages of 
the world. Make therefore the best use you can of 
what has been imparted to you. 

Upon this Ganglere heard a terrible noise all around 
him. He looked, but could see neither palace nor city 
anywhere, nor anything save a vast plain. He therefore 
set out on his return to his kingdom, where he related 
all that he had seen and heard; and ever since that 
time these tidings have been handed down from man to 
man by oral tradition, and we add, may the stream of 
story never cease to flow ! May the youth, the vigorous 
man, and the grandfather with his silvery locks, forever 
continue to refresh their minds by looking into and 
drinking from the fountain that reflects the ancient his- 
tory of the great Gothic race! 

In closing, we would present this question : Shall 
we have northern art? We have southern art (Hercu- 
les and Hebe), we have oriental art (Adam and Eve), and 
now will some one complete the trilogy by adding Loke 
and Sigyn ? Ay, let us have another Thorvaldsen, and 
let him devote himself to northern art. Here is a new 
and untrodden field for the artist. Ye Gothic poets and 
painters and sculptors ! why stand ye here idle ? 











Arranged by the Author from the Best Sources. 


>E6iR [Anglo-Sax. cagor, the sea]. The god presiding over the 
stormy sea. He entertains the gods every harvest, and 
brews ale for them. It still survives in provincial English 
for the sea-wave on rivers. Have a care, there is the eager 
coming! — (Carlyle's Heroes and Hero-worship.) ^yer. 

Agnar. a son of King Hraudung and foster-son of Frigg. Agnar. 

Agnar. a son of King Geirrod. He gives a drink to Grimner 
(Odin). Agnar. 

Alfr [Anglo-Sax. (elf, munt-idfen, sm-elfen, wudu-elfen, etc. ; Eng. 
elf, elves; Germ, alb and elf en, Ei'l- in ^-^konig (Goethe) is, 
according to Grimm, a corrupt form from the Danish ElWkoT^ge 
like ^^ye?'konge ; in the west of Iceland the word is also pro- 
nounced dlbi"]. An elf, fairy ; a class of beings like the dwarfs, 
between gods and men. They were of two kinds : elves of 
light {Ljosdlfar) and elves of darkness {Dukkdlfar). The abode 
of the elves is Alfheimr, fairy-land, and their king is the god 
Frey Elf. 

Alfo^r or Alfa-Sir [Father of all]. The name of Odin as the 
supreme god. It also refers to the supreme and unknown 
god. Allfatlier. 

Alfheimr \jUf, elf, and hcimr, home]. Elf-land, fairy-land. 
Frey's dwelling, given him as a tooth-gift. Alfheim. 

Alsvi^r [svi'&r, from svi^a, to scorch]. All-scorching. One of the 
horses of the sun. Alsvid. 

Alviss [All-wise]. The dwarf who answers Thor's questions in 
the lay of Alvis. Alvis. 

Amsvartnir. [The etymology is doubtful ; perhaps from ama, to 
vex, annoy, and svartnir (svartr), black.] The name of the 
sea, in which the island was situated where the wolf Fenrer 
was chained. Amsvartner. 



Ai^NARR or 6narii. Husband of niglit and father of Jord (j(Vr5 

earth). Annar. 
Andhkimnir \_uHcl, soul, spirit, breath, and lirimnir, Tirim. Anglo- 
Sax, hrlm ; Eng. rirae, hoar-frost ; hrlmnir, the one producing 

the hoar-frost]. The cook in Valhal. Andlirimner. 
Andvari. The name of a gurnard-shaped dwarf; the owner of 

the fatal ring called Andvaranautr. Andvarc. 
Andvarafors. The force or waterfall in which the dwarf And- 

vare kept himself in the form of a gurnard (pike). Andvare- 

Andvaranautr \_und, spirit ; 'oarr, cautious ; nautr, Germ, ge-nosse 

(from Icel. njota), a donor]. The fatal ring given by Andvare 

(the wary spirit). Andcarenaut. 
Angantyr. He has a legal dispute with Ottar Heimske, who is 

favored by Freyja. Angantyr. 
Angeyja. One of Heimdal's nine mothers. Says the Elder 

Edda in the Lay of Hyndla : Nine giant maids gave birth 

to the gracious god, at the world's margin. These are . 

Gjalp, Greip, Eistla, Angeyja, Ulfrun, Eyrgjafa, Imd, Atla, 

and Jarnsaxa. Angeyja. 
Angreo'Sa [Anguish-boding]. A giantess ; mother of the Fenris- 

wolf by Loke. Angcrboda. 
Arvakr [Early awake]. The name of one of the horses of the 

sun. Aarvak. 
Ass or As ; plural ^siR. The asas, gods. The word appears in 

such English names as Oshorn, Oswald, etc. With an n it 

is found in the Germ. Ansgar (Anglo-Sax. Oscar). It is also 

found in many Scandinavian proper names, as -4sbjorn, 

Astrid, etc. The term (esir is used to distinguish Odin, 

Thor, etc., from the vanir (vans). Asa. 
AsA-LOKi. Loke, so called to distinguish him from Utgard- 

Loke, who is a giant. Asa-Lokc. 
AsA-pORR. A common name for Thor. Asa-Tlwr. 
Asgar'Sr. The residence of the gods (asas). Asgard. 
AsKR [Anglo-Sax. use, an ash]. The name of the first man 

created by Odin, Hcener and Loder. Ask. 
AsYNJA ; plural Asynjur. A goddess ; feminine of Ass. Asynje. 
Atla. One of Heimdal's nine mothers. Atla. 
AutJHUMLA ; also written Au'Shumbla. [The etymology of this 

word is uncertain. Finn Magnusson derives it from au%r. 


void, and hum, darkness, and expresses the name by aer 
nociurnus.] The cow formed from the frozen vapors resolved 
into drops. She nourished the giant Ymer. Audhumbla. 

Aurbo'Sa [mirr, wet clay or loam ; ho'Sa, to announce]. Gymer's 
wife and Gerd's mother. Aurboda. 

AuRGELMiR [atcrr, wet clay or loam]. A giant; grandfather of 
Bergelmer ; called also Ymer. Avrgelmer. 

AusTRi. A dwarf presiding over the east region. Austre. East. 


Baldr [Anglo-Sax. haldor, princeps, the best, foremost]. The 

god of the summer-sunlight. He was son of Odin and 

Frigg ; slain by Hoder, who was instigated by Loke. He re- 
turns after Ragnarok. His dwelling is Breidablik. Balder. 
Barrey [Needle-isle]. A cool grove in which Gerd agreed with 

Skirner to meet Frey. Ba,rey. 
Baugi. a brother of Suttung, for whom (Baugi) Odin worked 

one summer in order to get his help in obtaining Suttung's 

mead of poetry. Bauge. 
Beli. a giant, brother of Gerd, slain by Frey. Bele. 
Bergelmir \herg, rock]. A giant ; son of Thrudgelmer and 

grandson of Aurgelmer. Bergelmer. 
Bestla. Wife of Bur and mother of Odin. Bestla. 
Beyla. Frey's attendant ; wife of Bygver. Beyla. 
BiFROST \hifast, to tremble, rust (compare Eng. rest), a space, a 

way ; the trembling way, via tremida]. The rainbow. Bif- 

BiLSKiRNiR \hil, a moment ; skir, serene, shining]. The heavenly 

abode of Thor, from the flashing of light in the lightning. 

BoLpORN [Evil thorn]. A giant ; father of Bestla, Odin's mother. 

Bolverkr [Working terrible things]. An assumed name of 

Odin, when he went to get Suttung's mead. Boherk. 
Bo"Sn. [Compare Anglo-Sax. hyden, dolium.] One of the three 

vessels in which the poetical mead was kept. Hence poetry 

is called the wave of the ho'^n. Bodn. 
BoRR [burr, a son ; compare Eng. born, Scotch bairn, Norse bar7i, a 

child]. A son of Bure and father of Odin, Vile and Ve. Bor. 


Bragi. [Compare Anglo-Sax. hrego, princeps.] The god of poetry. 
A son of Odin. He is the best of skalds. Brage. 

Brei'Sablik [Literally broad-blink, from hrev&r, broad, and hlika 
(Germ, blicken; Eng. to blink), to gleam, twinkle]. Balder's 
dwelling. Brcidahllk. 

Brisingamen. Freyja's necklace or ornament. Brisingamen. 

BuRi. [This word is generally explained as meaning the hearing, 
i. e. father ; but we think that it is the same as the Anglo- 
Saxon hyre, son, descendant, offspring. We do not see how 
it can be conceived as an active participle of the verb hera, 
to bring forth. See p. 195, where we have followed Keyser.] 
The father of Bor. He was produced by the cow's licking 
the stones covered with rime. Bure. 

Byggvir. Frey's attendant;' Beyla's husband. Bygver. 

Byleiptr [The flame of the dwelling]. The brother of Loke. 


Dagr [Day]. Son of Delling. Dag. 

Dainn. a hart that gnaws the branches of Ygdrasil. Daain. 

Dellingr [deglinger {dagr, day), dayspring]. The father of Day. 

Dis ; plural Disir. Attendant spirit or guardian angel. Any 
female mythic being may be called Dis. Dis. 

DraupjS'ir [drjupa; Eng. drip; Germ, traufen; Dan. dryppe]. 
Odin's ring. It was put on Balder's funeral-pile. Skirner 
offered it to Gerd. Draupner. 

Dromi. One of the fetters by which the Fenris-wolf was fet- 
tered. Drome. 

DuNEYRR, ) Harts that gnaw the branches of Ygdrasil. Dun- 

Durapror. ) eyr; DuratJiror. 

DuRiNN. The dwarf, second in degree. Durin. 

DvALiNN. A dwarf. Dvalin. 

Dvergr [Anglo-Sax. diceorg; Eng. dtmrf; Germ, zwerg; Swed. 
dwerg\ A dwarf. In modern Icelandic lore dwarfs disap- 
pear, but remain in local names, as Dverga-steinn (compare 
the Dwarfie Stone in Scott's Pirate), and in several words 
and phrases. From the belief that dwarfs lived in rocks an 
echo is called dwerg-mdl (dwarf-talk), and dwerg-mdla means 
to echo. The dwarfs were skilled in metal-working. 



Edda. The word means a great-grandmother. The name is 
usually applied to the mythological collection of poems dis- 
covered by Brynjolf Sveinsson in the year 1G43. He, led by 
a fanciful and erroneous suggestion, gave to the book which 
he found the name Ssemundar Edda, Edda of Ssemund. This 
is the so-called Elder Edda. Then there is the Younger 
Edda, a name applied to a work written by Snorre Sturle- 
son, and containing old mythological lore and the old arti- 
ficial rules for verse-making. The ancients apj^lied the name 
Edda only to this work of Snorre. The Elder Edda was 
never so called. And it is also uncertain whether Snorre 
himself knew his work by the name of Edda. In the Rigs- 
mal (Lay of Rig) Edda is the progenitrix of the race of 

Eg15ir. An eagle that appears at Raguarok. Egder. 

Egill. The father of Thjalfe ; a giant dwelling near the sea. 
Thor left his goats with him on his way to the giant Hymer. 

EiKpYRNiR \eili, oak, and \)yrnir, a thorn]. A hart that stands 
over Odin's hall (Valhal). From his antlers drops into the 
abyss water from which rivers flow. EUcthyrner. 

EiNHERi ; plural Einherjar. The only {ein) or great champions ; 
the heroes who have fallen in battle and been admitted 
into Valhal. Einlierje. 

EiR. [The word means peace, clemency.} An attendant of 
Menglod, and the best of all in the healing art. Mr. 

EiSTLA. One of Heimdal's nine mothers. Eistla. 

Eldhrimnir \eld, fire, and hrimnir, the one producing rime]. 
The kettle in which the boar Saehrimner is cooked in Val- 
hal. Eldhrimner. 

Eldir. The fire-producer; a servant of MgGV. Elder. 

^LiVAGAR. The ice-waves ; poisonous cold streams that flow 
out of Niflheim. Elivagar. 

Embla. The first woman. The gods found two lifeless trees, the 
ask (ash) and the embla; of the ash they made man, of the 
embla, woman. It is a question what kind of tree the embla 
was ; some suggest a metathesis, viz. enila, from almr (elm), 
but the compound emhlu-askr, in one of Egil's poems, seems 


to show that the emhla was in some way related to the ash. 
Eyrgjapa. One of Heimdal's nine mothers. Eyrgjafa. 


Fapnir. Son of Hreidmar. He kills his father to get posses- 
sion of the Andvareuaut. He afterwards changes himself 
into a dragon and guards the treasure on Gnita-lieath. He 
is slain by Sigurd, and his heart is roasted and eaten. Fafner. 

Falhopnir [Barrel-hoof, hollow-hoofj. One of the horses of the 
gods. Falhofner. 

Farbauti [Ship-beater, ship-destroyer]. The father of Loke. 

Fenrir or Fenrisulpr. The monster-wolf. He is the son of 
Loke. He bites the hand of Tyr. The gods put him in 
chains, where he remains until Ragnarok. In Ragnarok he 
gets loose, swallows the sun and conquers Odin, but is 
killed by Vidar. Fenrer or Fenris-wolf. 

Fensalir. The abode of Frigg. Fcnsal. 

Fjalar. a misnomer for Skrymer, in whose glove Thor took 
shelter. Fjalar. 

Fjalar. A dwarf, who slew Kvaser, and composed from his 
blood the poetic mead. Fjalar. 

Fjalar. A cock that crows at Ragnarok. Fjalar. 

FiMAPENGR [Jimr, quick, nimble]. The nimble servant of ^ger. 
He was slain by the jealous Loke. Fimafeng. 

FiMBUL. [Compare Germ, jimnicl, an iron wedge ; Bohem. fimol; 
Swed. fimrnel-stdng, the handle of a sledge-hammer ; in Icel. 
obsolete, and only used in four or five compounds in old 
poetry.] It means mighty great In the mythology we have : 

FiMBULPAMBi. A mighty fool. Fimhulfamhe. 

FiMBULTYR. The mighty god, great helper (Odin). Fimhultyr. 

FiMBULVETR [vctr, winter]. The great and awful winter of 
three years' duration preceding the end of the world. Fim- 

FiMBULpUL. A heavenly river {\>ul, roarmg.) FimbuUhvl. 

FiMBULpULR. The great wise man (Odin's High-song, 143). Fim- 

Fjolnir. a name of Odin. Fjolner. 


Fjorgtn. a personification of the earth ; mother of Thor. 

FoLKVANGR [Anglo-Sax. folc; Germ, volk; Eng. folk, people, and 
vangr (Ulfilas, icaggs), paradise ; Anglo-Sax. wang; Dan. vang, 
a field]. The folk-field. Freyja's dwelling. Folkvang. 

FORNJOTE. The ancient giant. He was father of Mger or Hler, 
the god of the ocean ; of Loge, flame or fire, and of Kaare, 
wind. His wife was Ran. These divinities are generally 
regarded as belonging to an earlier mythology, probably 
that of the Fins or Celts, and we omitted them in our work. 

FORSETi [The fore-sitter, president, chairman]. Son of Balder 
and Nanna. His dwelling is Glitner, and his ofiice is peace- 
maker. Forsete. 

Franangrs-fors. The force or waterfall into which Loke, in 
the likeness of a salmon, cast himself, and where the gods 
caught him and bound him. Fraananger-Force. 

Freki. One of Odin's wolves. Freke. 

Freyja [Feminine of Freyr]. The daughter of Njord and sister 
of Frey. She dwells in Folkvang. Half the fallen in battle 
belong to her. She lends her feather disguise to Loke. She 
is the goddess of love. Her husband is Oder. Her neck- 
lace is Brisingamen. She has a boar with golden bristles. 

Freyr [Goth, frauja; Gr. y.bpu>q ; Anglo-Sax. frea; Heliand fro, 
a lord]. He is son of Njord, husband of Skade, slayer of 
Bele, and falls in conflict with Surt in Ragnarok. Alfheim 
was given him as a tooth-gift. The ship Skidbladner was 
built for him. He falls in love with Gerd, Gymer's fair 
daughter. He gives his trusty sword to Skirner. Frey. 

Frigg. [Compare Anglo-Sax. frigu, love]. She is the wife of 
Odin, and mother of Balder and of other gods. She is the 
queen of the gods. She sits with Odin in Hlidskjalf. She 
exacts an oath from all things that they shall not harm 
Balder. She mourns Balder's death. Frigg. 

FtJLLA [Fullness]. Frigg's attendant. She takes care of Frigg's 
toilette, clothes and slippers. Nanna sent her a finger-ring 
from Helheim. She wears her hair flowing over her shoul- 
ders. FuUa. 



Galar. One of tlie dwarfs who killed Kvaser. Fjalar was the 

other. Oalar. 
Gagnra^e. a name assumed by Odin when he went to visit 

Vafthrudner. Oagnraad. 
Gangleri. One of Odin's names in Grimner's Lay. Oanglere. 
Gangleri. a name assumed by King Gylfe when he came to 

Asgard. Oanglere. 
Gar^rofa [Fence-breaker]. The goddess Gnaa has a horse by 

name Hofvarpner. The sire of this horse is Hamskerper, 

and its mother is GarSrofa. Gardrofa. 
Garmr. a dog that barks at Ragnarok. He is called the largest 

and best among dogs. Garm. 
Gefjun or Gefjon. A goddess. She is a maid, and all those 

who die maids become her maid-servants. She is present at 

^ger's feast. Odin says she knows men's destinies as well 

as he does himself. Gefjun. 
Geirro'Sr. a son of King Hraudung and foster-son of Odin ; 

he becomes king and is visited by Odin, who calls himself 

Grimner. He is killed by his own sword. There is also a 

giant by name Geirrod, who was once visited by Thor. 

Geirskogtjl. a valkyrie. Geirskognl. 
Geirvimul. a heavenly river. Geirvimul. 
GerISr. Daughter of Gymer, a beautiful young giantess ; beloved 

by Frey. Gcrd. 
Geri [gerr, greedy]. One of Odin's wolves. Gere. 
Gersemi [Anglo-Sax. gersuma, a costly thing.] One of Freyja's 

daughters. Gerseme. 
Gjallarbru [gjalla, to yell, to resound; Anglo-Sax. giellan]. 

The bridge across the river Gjol, near Helheim. The 

bridge between the land of the living and the dead. GjcU- 

Gjallarhorn. Heimdal's horn, which he will blow at Ragnarok. 

Ojnllar horn. 
GlLLiNG. Father of Suttung, who possessed the poetic mead. 

He was slain by Fjalar and Galar. Oilling. 
GiMLi [gimill, Idmill, Jiimin, heaven]. The abode of the right- 
eous after Ragnarok. Gimle. 


Gjalp. One of Heimdal's nine mothers. Gjalp. 

GiNNUNGA-GAP. [Compare AngloSax. gin or ginn, vast, wide. 
(The unga may be the adverbial ending added to gian, as in 
eall-unga, adv. from all, all.)] The great yawning gap, the 
premundane abyss, the chaos or formless void, in which 
dwelt the supreme powers before the creation. In the 
eleventh century the sea between Greenland and Vinland 
(America) was called Ginnunga-gap. Oinungagap. 

Gjoll. The one of the rivers Elivagar that flowed nearest the 
gate of Hel's abode. Gjol. 

GiSL, [Sunbeam]. One of the horses of the gods. Gisl. 

Gla'Sr [Clear, bright]. One of the horses of the gods. Olad. 

Gla^sheimr [Home of brightness or gladness]. Odin's dwell- 
ing. Gladsheim. 

Glasir. a grove in Asgard. Glaser. 

Gleipnir. The last fetter with which the wolf Fenrer was 
bound. Gleipner. 

Gler [The glassy]. One of the horses of the gods. Gler. 

Glitnir [The glittering]. Forsete's golden hall. Glitner. 

Gna. She is the messenger that Frigg sends into the various 
worlds on her errands. She has a horse called Hofvarpner, 
that can run through air and water. Gnaa. 

GNfPAHELLiR. The cave before which the dog Garm barks. 
The Gnipa-cave. 

GNfTAHErSR. Fafner's abode, where he kept the treasure called 
Andvarenaut. Gnita-lienth. 

GoiNN. A serpent under Ygdrasil. Goin. 

GoLL. A valkyrie. Gol. 

GoMUL. A heavenly river. Gomul. 

GoNDUL. A valkyrie. Gondul. 

GoPUL. A heavenly river. Gopul. 

Grabakr [Gray -back]. One of the serpents under Ygdrasil. 

Gra-S. a heavenly river. Graad. 

Grafvitnir, ) Serpents under Ygdrasil. Grafvitner; Graf. 

Grafvollu^r. ) Tollud. 

Greip [AngloSax. grap ; Eng. grip]. One of Heimdal's nine 
giant mothers. Greip. 

QrImnir [Icel. grima; Anglo-Sax. grima ; Dan. grime, a horse- 
halter]. A kind of hood or cowl covering the upper part of 


the face. Grimner is a name of Odin from his traveling 
in disguise. Griimier. 

Groa [Icel. groa; Anglo Sax. groican ; Eng. grow; h^X. crescere, 
crev-i\. The giantess mother of Orvandel. Thor went to 
her to have her charm the flint-stone out of his forehead. 

GULLPAXI [Gold-mane]. The giant Hrungner's horse. Goldfax. 

GuLLiNKAMBi [Gold-comb], A cock that crows at Ragnarok. 
Oullinkambe or Goldcomb. 

GuLLTOPPR [Gold-top]. Heimdal's horse. Goldtop. 

GuLLVEiG [Gold-drink, gold-thirst]. A personification of gold. 
She is pierced and thrice burnt, and yet lives. G2dveig. 

GuLLiNBURSTi [Golden bristles]. The name of Fray's hog. 

GUNGNIR [Dan. gungre, to tremble violently]. Odin's spear. 

GuNKLot? ; genitive GunnlaISar [Icel. gunnr, war, battle ; Anglo- 
Sax. gvfS; Old High Germ, gundia; and Icel. ID'S {la'^a, to 
invite), invitation ; Anglo-Sax. gcla'Sian, to invite]. One who 
invites war. She was daughter of the giant Suttung, and had 
charge of the poetic mead. Odin got it from her. Gunlad. 

Gylfi. a king of Svithod, who visited Asgard under the name 
of Ganglere. The first part of the Younger Edda is called 
Gylfaginuing, which means the Delusion of Gylfe. Gylfe. 

Gyllir [Golden]. One of the horses of the gods. Gyller. 

Gymir. a giant; the father of Gerd, the beloved of Frey. 

Gymir. Another name of the ocean divinity .^ger. Gymer. 


Hallinski^Ji. Another name of the god Heimdal. The pos- 
sessor of the leaning {halla) way {skevfi). Hallinskid. 

Hamskerpir [Hide-hardener]. A horse : the sire of Hofvarpner, 
which was Gnaa's horse. Hamskerper. 

Har [Anglo-Sax. hedh; Eng. Jiigh; Ulfilas 1i.avhs\. The High One, 
applied to Odin. Ilaar. 

Harbar-Sr. The name assumed by Odin in the Lay of Har- 
bard. Harhard. 

Hei'Srunr [Bright-running]. A goat that stands over Valhal. 


Heimdalr. The etymology lias not been made out. He was 
the heavenly watchman in the old mythology, answering to 
St. Peter in the medieval. According to the Lay of Rig 
(Heimdal), he was the father and founder of the diflerent 
classes of men, nobles, churls and thralls. He has a horn 
called Gjallar-horn, which he blows at Raguarok. His dwell- 
ing is Himiubjorg. He is the keeper of Bifrost (the rain- 
bow). Nine giantesses are his mothers. Heimdal. 

Hel [Ulfilas halja, adrj^; Anglo-Sax. and Eng. hell; Heliand and 
Old High Germ, hellia; Germ. HiJlle; Dan. at slaa, \-lijel, to 
kill]. The goddess of death, born of Loke and Angerboda. 
She corresponds to Proserpina. Her habitation is Helheim, « 
under one of the roots of Ygdrasil. Hel. 

Helblindi. a name of Odin. Helblinde. 

Helgrindr. The gates of Hel. Helgrind or Hclgate. 

Heliieim. The abode of Hel. Helheim. 

He:if(V5r, \ [The father of hosts]. A name of Odin. Her- 

HerjafcWr ) father. 

HermO'Sr [Courage of hosts]. Son of Odin, who gives him hel- 
met and corselet. He went on Sleipner to Hel to bring 
Balder back. Hermod. 

HiLDisviNi \liildr (Anglo-Sax. Mid) means war]. Freyja's hog. 

HiMiNBJORG [himinn, heaven, and bjorg, help, defense ; hence 
heaven defender]. Heimdal's dwelling. Himiribjorg. 

HiMiNBRJOTR [Heaven-breaker]. One of the giant Hymer's oxen, 
Himinhrjoter . 

Hleset. The abode of J5ger. Hlesey. 

HLiiSsKJALF [from MI'S, gate, and skjdlf, shelf, bench]. The seat 
of Odin, whence he looked out over all the worlds. Hlid- 

Hlin. One of the attendants of Frigg; but Frigg herself is 
sometimes called by this name. Hlin. 

HloISyn. a goddess ; a name of the earth ; Thor's mother. 

Hloridi [from Jiloa; Anglo-Sax. Mowan; Eng. low^ to bellow, 
roar, and o'ei'^, thunder]. One of the names of Thor; the 
bellowing thunderer. Hloride. 

„ „ I Names of Odin, Hnikar and Hnikuder. 

Hniku^r. ) 



Hnoss [Anglo.Sax. hnossian, to hammer]. A costly thing ; the 

name of one of Freyja's daughters. Hnos. 
HODDMiMisHOLT. Hoduiimer's holt or grove, where the two 

human beings Lif and Lifthraser were preserved during 

Ragnarok. Hodmimer's forest. 
Ho'Sr. The slayer of Balder. He is blind, returns to life in 

the regenerated world. The Cain of the Norse mythology. 

HcENiR. One of the three creating gods. With Odin and Loder 

Hoener creates Ask and Embla, the first human pair. Hoiner. 
HoFVARPNiR [Hoof-thrower]. Gnaa's horse. His father is Ham- 
* skerper and mother Gardrofa. Hofvarpncr. 

Hr^svelgr [Corpse-swallower]. A giant in an eagle's plumage, 

who produces the wind. Hrasvelger. 
Hrau15ungr. Geirrod's father. Hraudung. 

HREit?>iARR. Father of Regin and Fafner. He exacts the blood- 
fine from the gods for slaying Otter. He is slain by Fafner. 

Hrimpaxi [Rime mane]. The horse of Night. Rimefax. 
Hrimpursar [Anglo-Sax. hrim; Eug. rime, hoar-frost]. Rime- 
giants or frost-giants, who dwell under one of Ygdrasil's 

roots. Oiants. 
HrO'Svitnir. a wolf; father of the wolf Hate. Erodvitner. 
Hroptr. One of Odin's names. Hropt. 
Hrungnir. a giant ; friend of Hymer. Thor fought with him 

and slew him. Hrungner. 
Hringiiorni. The ship upon which Raider's body was burned. 

HROsspJOPR [Horse-thief]. A giant. Erostlijof. 
HuGiNN [Mind]. One of Odin's ravens. Hugin. 
Hvergelmir [The old kettle]. The spring in the middle of 

Niflheim, whence flowed the rivers Elivagar. The Northern 

Tartaros. Hvergelmer. 
Hymir. a giant with whom Thor went fishing when he caught 

the Midgard-serpeut. His wife was the mother of Tyr. 

Tyr and Thor went to him to procure a kettle for .^ger. 

Hyndla. a vala visited by Freyja, who comes to her to learn 

the genealogy of her favorite Ottar. Hyndla. 



Kavollr. a plain where the gods first assemble, where they 
establish their heavenly abodes, and where they assemble 
again after Ragnarok. The plains of Ida. Idavokl. 

KuNN. Daughter of the dwarf Ivald ; she was wife of Brage, 
and the goddess of early spring. She possesses rejuvenating 
apples of which the gods partake. Idun. 

IpiNG. A river which divides the giants from the gods. Ifing. 

IwrS. One of Heimdal's nine giant mothers. Imd. 

Ime. a son of the giant Vafthrudner. Im. 

Ingunar-Freyr. One of the names of Frey. Ingun's Frey. 

Innsteinn. The father of Ottar Heimske ; the favorite of Freyja. 

fvALDi. A dwarf. His sons construct the ship Skidbladner. 


Jafnhar [Equally high]. A name of Odin. Evenliigh. Jafnhaar. 

Jalkr. a name of Odin (Jack the Giant-killer?). Jalk. 

Jaknsaxa [Iron-chopper]. One of Heimdal's nine giant mothers. 

JarnvfSr [Iron-wood]. A wood east of Midgard, peopled by 
giantesses called Jarnvids. This wood had iron leaves. 

Jarnvi^iur. The giantesses in the Iron-wood. Jarnvids. 

JoRD. Wife of Odin and mother of Thor. Earth. Jord. 

JoTUNN [Anglo-Sax. eoteri]. A giant. The giants were the earli- 
est created beings. The gods question them in regard to 
Balder. Thor frequently contends with them. Famous giants 
are : Ymer, Hymer, Hrungner, Orvandel, Gymer, Skrymer, 
Vafthrudner and Thjasse. Oiant. 

Jotunheimar (plural). The Utgaard ; the home of the giants 
in the outermost parts of the earth. Jotunlieim. 


Kerlaugar (plural). Two rivers which Thor every day must 

cross. Kerlaug. 
Kormt. Another river which Thor every day must pass. Kormt. 
KvASiR. The hostage given by the vans to the asas. His blood, 

when slain, was the poetical mead kept by Suttung. Kvaser. 


L^IJlNGR. One of the fetters witli which the Fenris-wolf was 
bound. Lading. 

L^ra'Sr [Furnishing protection]. A tree near Valhal. LcRrad. 

Landvi'Si. [A mountain range overgrown with trees is vv8i.] 
Vidar's abode. The primeval forests. Landvide. 

Laufey [Leafy island]. Loke's mother. Laiifcy. 

Leif]?uasir, ) The two persons preserved in Hodmimer's grove 

Lip. ) during Surfs conflagration in Ragnarok ; the 

last beings in the old and the first in the new world. Lif 
and Lifthraser. 

Lettfeti [Light-foot]. One of the horses of the gods. Lightfoot. 

LiTR. A dwarf that Thor kicked into Balder's funeral pile. Liter. 

LoDDFAFNiR. A protege of Odin. Lodfafner. 

LotSuRR [Compare Germ, lodern, to flame]. One of the three 
gods (Odin, Hoener and Loder) who create Ask and Embla, 
the first man and woman. He is identical with Loke. Loder. 

LOKi [Icel. luka, to end, finish ; Loke is the end and consum- 
mation of divinity]. The evil giant-god of the Norse 
mythology. He steers the ship Naglfar in Ragnarok. He 
borrows Frej'ja's feather-garb and accompanies Thor to the 
giant Thrym, who has stolen Thor's hammer. He is the 
father of Sleipner; but also of the Midgaard serpent, of the 
Fenris-wolf and of Hel. He causes Balder's death, abuses 
the gods in ^Eger's feast, but is captured in Fraananger- 
force and is bound by the gods. Loke. 

LOPTR [The aerial]. Another name of Loke. Loptcr. 


Magni [megin, might, strength]. A son of Thor. Magne. 
Mani [Ulfilas mena ; Anglo-Sax. raona ; Eng. mooii\. Brother of 

Sol (the sun, feminine), and both were children of the giant 

Mundilfare. Moon or Maane. 
Mardoll or Marjdoll. One of the names of Freyja. Mardallar 

grdtr (the tears of Mardal), gold. Mardal. 
Managarmr [Moon-swallower]. A wolf of Loke's offspring. 

He devours the moon. Maanegarm or Moongarm. 
Mannheimar (plural) [Homes of man]. Our earth. Manheim. 
Meili. a son of Odin. Meile. 


Mi^GAK^. [In Cumberland, England, are three farms : High- 
garth, Middle-garth, Low-garth^ The mid-yai"d, middle-town, 
that is, the eartli, is a mythological word common to all the 
ancient Teutonic languages. Ulfilas renders the Gr. oixouiii'^fj 
by midjungards ; Heliand calls the earth middil-gard; 
the Anglo-Saxon homilies, instead of earth, say middan- 
geard {meddhrt, Jamieson), and use the word as an appella- 
tive ; but the Icelandic Edda alone has preserved the true 
mythical bearing of this old Teutonic word. The earth 
(Midgard), the abode of men, is seated in the middle of the 
universe, bordered by mountains and surrounded by the great 
sea {Hthaf); on the other side of this sea is the Utgard 
(out-yard), the abode of the giants ; the Midgard is 
defended by the yard or burgh Asgard (the burgh of the 
gods) lying in the middle (the heaven being conceived as 
rising above the earth). Thus the earth and mankind are 
represented as a stronghold besieged by the powers of evil 
from without, defended by the gods from above and from 
within. Midgard. 

Mi'SgarSsormr [The serpent of Midgaard]. The world-serpent 
hidden in the ocean, whose coils gird around the whole Mid- 
gard. Thor once fishes for him, and gets him on his hook. 
In Ragnarok Thor slays him, but falls himself poisoned by 
his breath. Midgard-serpent. 

MimamefSu. a mythic tree ; no doubt the same as Ygdrasil, 
It derives its name from Mimer, and means Mimer's tree. 

MiMiR. The name of the wise giant keeper of the holy well 
Mimis-brunnr, the burn (bourn, brun) of Mimer, the well of 
wisdom, in which Odin pawned his eye for wisdom ; a myth 
which is explained as symbolical of the heavenly vault with 
its single eye, the sun, setting in the sea. Is the likeness of 
the word to the Latin memor only accidental? The true 
etymology of Mimir is not known. Mimer. 

Mjolniu. [The derivation from mala or mola (to crush) is, 
though probable, not certain. The word may be akin to 
Goth, milhma, cloud ; Swed. rnMii; Dan. mulm; Norse molnas 
(Ivar Aasen), to grow dark from bands of clouds arising.] 
Thor's formidable hammer. After Ragnarok, it is possessed 
by his scms Mode and Magne. Mjolner. 


MiSTiLTEiNN [Old High Germ, mistil; Germ, mistel; Anglo-Sax. 
mistel or niistel-ta; Eng. iuistletoe]. The mistletoe or mistle- 
twig, tlie fatal twig by which Balder, the white suii-god, was 
slain. After the death of Balder, Ragnarok set in. Balder's 
death was also symbolical of the victory of darkness over 
light, which comes every year at midwinter. The mistletoe 
in English households at Christmas time is no doubt a relic 
of a rite lost in the remotest heathendom, for the fight of 
light and darkness at midwinter was a foreshadowing of the 
final overthrow in Ragnarok. The legend and the word are 
common to all Teutonic peoples of all ages. Mistletoe. 

Motii [Courage]. A son of Thor. Mode. 

Mo'SsoGNiR. The dwarf highest in degree or rank. Modsogner. 

MoiNN. A serpent under Ygdrasil. Main. 

MuNDiLFARi. Father of the sun and moon. Mundilfare. 

MuNiNN [Memory]. One of Odin's ravens. Munin. 

MusPELL. The name of an abode of fire. It is peopled by 
Muspells ly'Sir (the men of Muspel), a host of fiends, who are 
to appear at Ragnarok and destroy the world by fire. Mus- 
pel. (See next word.) 

MusPELLSiiEiMR. The abode of Muspel. This interesting word 
(Mdspell) was not confined to the Norse mythology, but 
appears twice in the old Saxon poem Heliand, thus : (1) 
mutspelli eumit on thiustra naht, also tliiof ferit {mutspelli 
comes in dusky night, as a thief fares, — that is. But the day 
of the Lord will come as a thief in the night), and (3) 
mutspellis megin ohar man ferit (the main of mvtspelli fares 
over men). A third instance is an Old High German poem 
on the Last Day, thus : dur ni mac denne mac andrcmo lielfan 
vora demo muspille (there no man can help another against 
the muspel-doom). In these instances muspel stands for the 
day of judgment, the last day, and answers to Ragnarok of 
the Norse mythology. The etymology is doubtful, for spell 
may be the weird, doom, Lat. fatum; or it may be spoil, 
destruction. The former part, mus or muod, is more difficult 
to explain. The Icelandic mus is an assimilated form. Mua- 

MoKKTjPvKALFi {mukJcr means a dense cloud]. A clay giant in 
the myth of Thor and Hrungner. Mokkerkalfe. 



Naglfar [Nail-ship]. A mythical ship made of nail-parings. It 
appears in Kagnarok. Nuglfar. Nailship. 

Nal [Needle]. Mother of Loke. Naal. 

Nanna. Daughter of Nep (bud) ; mother of Forsete and wife of 
Balder. She dies of grief at the death of Balder. Nanna. 

^ARi or Narfi. Son of Loke. Loke was bound by the intes- 
tines of Nare. Nare or Narfe. 

Nastrond [The shore of corpses]. A place of punishment for the 
wicked after Ragnarok. Naastrand. 

NitiAFJOLL. The Nida-mountains toward the north, where there 
is after Ragnarok a golden hall for the race of Sindre (the 
dwarfs). Nidafcll. 

Ni-Shoggr. a serpent of the nether world, that tears the car- 
cases of the dead. He also lacerates Ygdrasil. Nidhiig. 

NiFLHEiMR [nifl; Old High Germ, nibul ; Germ, nebel ; Lat. 
nebula; Gr. vtcpilrj, mist, fog.] The world of fog or mist; 
the nethermost of the rime worlds. The place of punish- 
ment (Hades). It was visited by Odin when he went to 
inquire after the fate of Balder. Niflheim. 

Njor^r. a van, vanagod. He was husband of Skade, and 
father of Frey and Freyja. He dwells in Noatun. Njord. 

NoATUN [Place of ships]. Njord's dwelling ; Njord being a 
divinity of the water or sea. Noatun. 

Nor-Sri [North]. A dwarf presiding over the northern regions. 
Nordre or North. 

NoTT. Night ; daughter of Norve. Night. 

IJORN; plural NoRNiR. The weird sisters; the three heavenly 
norns (parcas, fates) Urd, Verdande, and Skuld (Past, Present, 
and Future); they dwelt at the fountain of Urd, and ruled 
the fate of the world. Three norns were also present at 
the birth of every man and cast the weird of his life. Norn. 

^•SiNN [Anglo-Sax. Wodan ; Old High Germ. Wodan]. Son of 
Bor and Bestla. He is the chief of the gods. With Vile and 
Ve he parcels out Ymer. With Hoener and Loder he creates 
Ask and Embla. He is the fountain-head of wisdom, the 
founder of culture, writing and poetry, the progenitor of 


kings, the lord of battle and victory. He quaffs witli Saga 
in Sokvabek. He has two ravens, two wolves and a spear. 
His throne is Hlidskjalf, from where he looks out over all 
the worlds. In Ragnarok he is devoured by the Fenris- 
wolf. Odin. 

(5'Sr. Freyja's husband. Oder. 

OISrcerir [The spirit-mover]. One of the vessels in which the 
blood of Kvaser, that is, the poetic mead, was kept. The 
inspiring nectar. Odrcerer. 

Ofnir. a serpent under Ygdrasil. Ofner. 

Okolnir [Not cool]. After Ragnarok the giants have a hall 
{ale-haU) called Brimer, at Okolner. 

OKC-fioRR [Icel. aka; Lat. agere; Gr. ayeiv (compare English yoke), 
to drive, to ride]. A name of Thor as a charioteer. Akethor. 

OsKi [Wish]. A name of Odin. Oske. Wish. 

Otr [Otter]. A son of Hreidmar ; in the form of an otter killed 
by Loke. Oter. 

(3ttarr or Ottarr Heimski [Stupid]. A son of Instein, a pro- 
tege of Freyja. He has a contest with Angantyr. Hyndla 
gives him a cup of remembrance. Ottar. 


Ragnarok [ragna, from regin, god ; rvk may be Old High Germ. 
raliha, sentence, judgment, akin to rekja; rok, from rekja, is 
the whole development from creation to dissolution, and 
would, in this word, denote the dissolution, doomsday, of the 
gods ; or it may be from rokr {reykkr, smoke), twilight, and 
then the word means the twilight of the gods.] The last 
day ; the dissolution of the gods and the world. Ragnarok. 

Ran [Rob]. The goddess of the sea; wife of Mgex. Ran. 

Ratatoskr. a squirrel that runs up and down the branches of 
Ygdrasil. Ratatosk. 

Rati. An auger used by Odin in obtaining the poetic mead. Rate. 

Reginn. Son of Hreidmar ; brother of Fafner arid Otter. Regin. 

RiNDR [Eng. rind, crust]. A personification of the hard frozen 
earth. Mother of Vale. The loves of Odin and Rind re- 
semble those of Zeus and Europa in Greek legends. Rind. 

Roskva. The name of the maiden follower of Thor. She sym- 
bolizes the ripe fields of harvest. Roskva. 



S^HRiMNiR [smr, sea ; hrimnir, rime-producer]. The name of the 

boar on which the gods and heroes in Valhal constantly 

feed. Sa'hrimner. 
Saga [History]. The goddess of history. She dwells in Sokvabek. 

Sessrumnir [Seat-roomy]. Freyja's large-seated palace. Sesrumner. 
Si'Shottr [Long-hood]. One of Odin's names, from his traveling 

in disguise with a large hat on his head hanging down over 

his face. Sidhat. 
Si^SKEGGR [Long-beard]. One of Brage's names. It is also a 

name of Odin in the lay of Grimner. Sidskeg. 
Sip. The wife of Thor and mother of Uller. [Ulfilas sibja; Anglo- 
Sax, sib; Eng. gos-«^p, god-sib; Heliand sihhia; Old High Germ. 

sibba; Germ, sippe. The word denotes affinity.] Sif, the 

golden-haired goddess, wife of Thor, betokens mother earth 

with her bright green grass. She was the goddess of the 

sanctity of the family and wedlock, and hence her name. Sif. 
SiGFA^iR [Father of victory]. A name of Odin. Sigfather. 
SiGYN. Loke's wife. She holds a basin to prevent the venom 

from dropping into Loke's face. Sigyn. 
SiLFRiNTOPPR [Silver-tuft]. One of the horses of the gods. 

SiNDRi. One of the most famous dwarfs. Sindre. 
SiNiR [Sinew]. One of the horses of the gods. Siner. 
Sjofn. One of the goddesses. She delights in turning men's 

hearts to love. Sjofn. 
Ska15i \scathe, harm, damage]. A giantess ; daughter of Thjasse 

and the wife of Njord. She dwells in Thrymheim. Hangs a 

venom serpent over Loke's face. Skade. 
SKErSBRiMiR [Race-runner]. One of the horses of the gods. 

Ski^bla'Snir. The name of the famous ship of the god Frey. 

Skinfaxi [Shining-mane]. The horse of Day. Ski? fax. 
Skirnir [The bright one]. Frey's messenger. Skirner. 
Skrymir. The name of a giant ; the name assumed by Utgard- 

Loke. Skrymer. 
Skuld [Shall]. The norn of the future. Skuld, 


Skogul. a Valkyrie. Skogul. 

Sleipnir [The slipper]. The name of Odin's eight-footed steed. 

He is begotten by Loke with Svadilfare. Sleipner. 
Snotra [Neat]. The name of one of the goddesses. Snotra. 
SoKKMiMiR [Mimer of the deep]. A giant slain by Odin. Sok- 

SoKKVABEKKR. A mansion where Odin and Saga quaif from 

golden beakers. Sokvahek. 
Sol [Sun]. Daughter of Mundilfare. She drives the horses that 

draw the car of the sun. Sol. 
SONR. One of the vessels containing the jioetic mead. Son. 
SuDRi [South]. A dwarf presiding over the south region. Sudre. 

SuRTR. A fire-giant in Ragnarok ; contends with the gods on the 

plain of Vigrid ; guards Muspelheim. Surt. 
SuTTUNGR. The giant possessor of the poetic mead. Suttung. 
SvA^iLFARi. A horse ; the sire of Sleipner. Svadilfare. 
SvAFNiR. A serpent under Ygdrasil. Svafne?: 
SvALiNN [Cooler]. The shield placed before the sun. Svalin. 
SvasuISr [Delightful]. The name of a giant ; the father of the 

sun. Svasud. 
Syn. a minor goddess. Si/n. 


Tyr ; genitive Tts, dative and accusative Ty. [Compare Icel. 
tivi, god ; Twisco ( Tivisco) in Tacitus' Germania. For the 
identity of this word with Sanscrit dyaus, divas, heaven ; Gr. 
Ztuq (J:«?) ; Lat. divus, see Max Miiller's Lectures on the 
Science of Language, 2d series, p. 425.] Properly the generic 
name of the highest divinity, and remains in many com- 
pounds. In the mythology he is the one-armed god of war. 
The Fenris-wolf bit one hand off him. He goes with Tlior 
to Hymer to borrow a kettle for Mgev. He is son of Odin 
by a giantess. Tyr. 

V (TH). 

pJALFi. The name of the servant and follower of Thor. The 
word properly means a delver, digger (Germ, delber, delben, 
to dig). The names Thjalfe and Roskva indicate that Thor 
was the friend of the farmers and the god of agriculture. 


pJAZi [pJASSi]. A giant ; the father of Njord's wife, Skade. 
His dwelling was Thrymheim ; he was slain by Thor. 

JjoRR. [Anglo-Sax. ))unor; Eng. thunder; North Eng. thunner; 
Dutch doncler; Old High Germ. doncCr; Germ, donner; Heli- 
and thunar; Danish tor, in tor-den (compare Lat. tono and 
tonitrus.) The word 'purr is therefore formed by absorption 
of the middle n, and contraction of an old dissyllabic ];>onor 
into one syllable, and is a purely Scandinavian form ; hence 
in Anglo-Saxon charters or diplomas it is a sure sign of 
forgery when names compounded with \)tir- appear in deeds 
pretending to be of a time earlier than the Danish invasion 
in the ninth century ; although in later times they abound. 
The English Tliursday is a later form, in which the pho- 
netic rule of the Scandinavian tongue has been followed ; 
but perhaps it is a North English form]. The god of 
thunder, keeper of the hammer, the ever-fighting slayer of 
trolls and destroyer of evil spirits, the friend of mankind, 
the defender of the earth, the heavens and the gods ; for 
without Thor and his hammer the earth would become the 
helpless prey of the giants. He was the consecrator, the 
hammer being the cross or holy sign of the ancient heathen, 
hence the expressive phrase on a heathen Danish runic 
stone : \>urr mgi \>assi runar (Thor consecrate these runes !) 
Thor was the son of Odin and Fjorgyn (mother earth) ; he 
was blunt, hot-tempered, without fraud or guile, of few 
words and ready stroke — such was Thor, the favoi'ite deity 
of our forefathers. The finest legends of the Younger 
Edda and the best lays of the Elder Edda refer to Thor. 
His hall is Bilskirner. He slays Thjasse, Thrym, Hrungner, 
and other giants. In Ragnarok he slays the Midgard-ser- 
pent, but falls after retreating nine paces, poisoned by the 
serpent's breath. Thor. 

pRrSi [Third]. ■ A name of Odin in Gylfaginning. Thride. 

pRU"SGELMiR. The giant father of Bergelmer. Thrudgelmer. 

,„ ' [ Thor's abode. Thrudheim ; Thrudvavg. 


pRUlSR. The name of a goddess ; the daughter of Thor and Sif. 

pRYMHEiMR. Thjasse's and Skade's dwelling. Thrymheim. 


f)RYMR. The giant who stole Thor's hammer and demanded 

Freyja for it. Thrym. 
pOKK. The name of a giantess (supposed to have been Loke in 

disguise) in the myth of Balder. She would not weep for 

his death. Thok. 


TJlfrun. One of Heimdal's nine giant mothers. Ulfrun. 
Ullr. The son of Sif and stepson of Thor. His father is not 

named. He dwells in Ydaler. Viler. 
URt)ARBRUNNR. The fountain of the norn Urd. The Urdar- 

fountain. The weird sjDring. 
Ur'Sr [Anglo-Sax. wyrd; Eng. weird; Heliand iDurtli]. One of 

the three norns. The norn of the past, that which has been. 

TJ^tgar-Sar [The out-yard]. The abode of the giant Utgard-Loke. 

tJTGARSA-LoKi. The giant of Utgard visited by Thor. He calls 

himself Skrymer. Utgard-Loke. 


VAFpRU^NiR. A giant visited by Odin. They try each other in 

questions and answers. The giant is defeated and forfeits 

his life. Vafthrudner. 
Valaskjalp. One of Odin's dwellings. Valaskjalf. 
ValpoISr [Father of the slain]. A name of Odin. Valfather. 
Valgrind. a gate of Valhal. Valgrind. 
Valiioll [The hall of the slain. Icel. valr; Anglo-Sax. wal, the 

slain]. The hall to which Odin invited those slain in battle. 

Valkyr J a [The chooser of the slain]. A troop of goddesses, 

handmaidens of Odin. They serve in Valhal, and are sent 

on Odin's errands. Valkyrie. 
Vali. Brother of Balder. Slays Hoder when only one night 

old. Rules with Vidar after Ragnarok. Vale. 
VALr. A son of Loke. Vale. — 

Valtamr. a fictitious name of Odin's father. Valtam. 
Ve. a brother of Odin (Odin, Vile and Ve). Ve. 
Vegtamr. a name assumed by Odin. Vegtam. 
Vanaheimar. The abode of the vans. Vanaheim. 


Vanr; plural Vanik. Those deities whose abode was in Vana- 
heim, in contradistinction to the asas, who dwell in Asgard : 
Njord, Frey and Freyja. The vans waged war with the asas, 
but were afterwards, by virtue of a treaty, combined and 
made one with them. The vans were deities of the sea. Van. 

Veorr [Defender]. A name of Thor. Veoi\ 

Ver'Sandi [from ver'Sa, to become ; Germ, werden]. The norn of 
the present, of that which is. 

Vestri. The dwarf presiding over the west region. Vestre. West. 

VrSARR. Son of Odin and the giantess Grid. He dwells in 
Landvide. He slays the Fenris-wolf in Ragnarok. Rules 
with Vale after Ragnarok. Vidar. 

ViGRitSR [Icel. vig; Ulfilas wialijo, iJ-oyjj, a fight, a battle]. The 
field of battle where the gods and the sons of Surt meet in 
Ragnarok. Vigrid. 

ViLi. Brother of Odin and Ve. These three sons of Bor and 
Bestla construct the world out of Ymer's body. Vile. 

ViMUR. A river that Thor crosses. Vimer. 

ViNDSVALR [Wind-cool]. The father of winter. Vindsval. 

ViNDHEiMR [Wind-home]. The place that the sons of Balder 
and Hoder are to inhabit after Ragnarok. Vindheim. Wind- 

ViN-GOLF [The mansion of bliss]. The palace of the asynjes. 

ViNGfJORR. A name of Thor. Vingtlior. 

VoR. The goddess of betrothals and marriages. Vor. 


Ydalir. Uller's dwelling. Tdaler. 

Tggr. A name of Odin. Ygg. 

Yggdrasill [The bearer of Ygg (Odin)]. The world-embracing 

ash tree. The whole world is symbolized by this tree. Tg- 

Ymir. The huge giant in the cosmogony, out of whose body 

Odin, Vile and Ve created the world. The progenitor of the 

giants. He was formed out of frost and fire in Ginungagap. 



Aachen, 92. 

Aage, 397. 

Aarvak, 159, 177, 178, 259. 

Acts of the Apostles, 25. 

Adam, 82, 390, 436. 

Adelsten, Hakon, 110. 

Adonis, 53. 

Mgei, 39, 40, 98, 110, 123, 247, 

274, 322, 323, 327, 337, 338, 

343-349, 372, 377, 381, 397-399. 
^schylus, 78. 
Afternoon, 180. 
Agder, 363. 
Agnar, 122, 156. 
Ahriman, 81. 
Alexander, 88, 96. 
Ale, 382. 

Alfheim, 186, 348. 
Allfather, 49, 182, 193, 210, 434. 
Alsvid, 159, 177, 178. 
Alsvin, 259. 
Alvis, 124. 
America, American, etc., 34, 52, 

59. 74, 92, 94, 96, 113, 128, 208, 

308, 309, 401. 
Amsvartner, 384. 
Andunson (Thorgeir), 202. 
Andhrimner, 263, 264. 
Andvare, 344, 376, 377, 381. 
Angantyr, 365, 366. 
Angerboda, 373, 382, 419, 420. 
Anglo-Saxon, 23, 36, 43, 47, 48, 

72,74, 75, 79, 117, 126, 165, 177, 

223, 230, 233, 240, 298, 308, 309. 

347, 373. 
Annar, 178, 237. 
Aphrodite, 53, 413. 
Apollo, 40. 
Arab, 309. 
Argos, 72, 87. 

Asa-bridge, 189, 301. 

Asaheim, 54, 187, 208. 

Asas (a people), 232. 

Asgard, 35, 36, 38, 40, 101. 123, 
126, 182, 185, 217, 221, 233,234, 
250, 274-277, 287, 289, 300, 302, 
303, 308, 323, 332, 337, 392, 429. 

Asia, 81. 

Ask, 82, 100, 183, 185, 187, 196. 

Atle, 377, 396. 

Athens, 59, 92. 

And, 156, 178. 

Audhumbla, 173, 174, 195. 

Augustus, 71, 89. 

Aurboda, 352. 

Aurgelmer, 173, 174, 194. 

Austre, 183. 

Avon, 78. 

Babel, 82. 175. 

Balder, 29, 39, 49. 53, 54, 57, 60, 
64, 65, 82, 84, 90, 96. 98, 106, 
109, 110, 113, 121, 123, 124, 185, 
186, 189. 193, 208, 222, 229, 
237-239, 241, 243, 244, 270. 272, 
277-297, 356, 369, 375, 388, 390, 
391, 394, 397,407, 409, 415, 425, 
426, 429, 432-434. 

Barleycorn (John), 351. 

Bascom (Dr. John), 17, 114. 

Bauge, 249. 

Bele, 345, 354, 423. 

Beowulf, 36, 43, 47, 126, 131. 

Bergelmer, 173-175, 194. 

Berghild, 210. 

Berzelius, 28. 

Bestla, 174, 254. 

Beyla, 357, 399. 

Bifrost, 98, 101,181,186, 189,273 




Bil, 182. 

Billing, 242. 

Bilskimer, 186, 298, 300. 

Bjarkemaal, 62. 

Bjornsoii (Bjornstjerne), 95 

Black Plague, 389. 

Black Sea, 82. 

Bleking, 226. 

Blicher, 402. 

Blodughadda, 347. 

Boccaccio, 126. 

Bodn, 247, 249. 

Bolthorn, 174, 254. 

Bolverk, 149, 249, 252. 

Bor, 174-176, 183. 

Boston, 386. 

Bous, 244. 

Boyesen (Hjalmar Hjorth), 18, 

Braalund, 210. 
Brage, 90, 96-98, 123, 126, 159, 

185, 220, 240 (the skald), 247, 

259, 270, 273-278, 369, 398, 399. 
Brand, 363. 
Breidablik, 186, 279. 
Biiraer, 430, 434. 
Brisingaraen, 331, 364, 374, 375. 
Brok, 106, 220, 221. 
Brynhild, 48, 118, 200, 377, 381, 

388, 435. 
Bugge (Soplius), 116. 
Bull (Ole), 96, 202. 
Bure, 174. 

Burns (Robert), 351. 
Bygver. 350, 351. 
Byleist, 374, 375, 423. 
Bylgja, 347. 
Byrger, 182. 
Byzantium, 244. 

Cambridge (Eng.), 72. 
Carpenter (Dr. S. H.), 17, 75. 
Carthage, 240. 
Carlyle, 27, 37, 47, 54, 69, 72,205, 

266, 330. 
Caspian Sea, 82, 232. 
Castalian fountain, 72, 97. 
Catholic church, 31, 43, 49, 205, 


Cato, 88. 

Charlemagne, 42. 

Chicago, 386. 

Christ, 31, 39, 41, 42, 49, 57, 82. 

Christian, Christianity, etc., 25, 
27, 29, 31, 32, 33, 35, 37, 39, 40, 
42, 44, 45, 47, 49, 50, 62, 70, 79, 
94, 95, 113, 115, 128, 163, 201, 
205, 265, 308, 335, 336. 394, 435. 

Cicero, 89. 

Clarendon press, 72. 

Cleasby (Richard), 72. 

Colfax, 363. 

Cologne, 92. 

Constantinople, 65, 92. 

Cornwall (Barry) 28, 273. 

Correggio, 294. 

Creation, 60, 171-187. 

Cupid, 367. 

Daain, 190, 255. 

Dan, 105. 

Danaides, 64. 

Dane, Danish, Denmark, etc , 34, 

35, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 60, 72, 

83, 108. 233, 240, 322, 347. 
Dante, 381. 
Danube, 69. 
Darwin, 199. 
Dasent, 35, 36, 47, 48, 50, 51, 72, 

Day, 178,179,237. 
Decameron, 126. 
Declaration of Independence, 92, 

Delling, 178, 179, 258. 
Delphi, 57. 

Demeter, 236, 237, 359. 
Demosthenes, 77. 
Deucalion, 56. 
Dido, 240. 
Dorothea, 403-407. 
Draupner, 106, 217, 220-223, 338, 

288, 289, 299. 
Drome, 383, 384. 
Duneyr, 190. 
Durathror, 190. 
Durin, 183, 184. 
Dutch, 43, 95. 



Duva, 347. 

Dvalin, 105, 190, 255. 
Dsvarfs, 27, 29, 98, 99, 101, 102- 
109, 175. 

Edda (Elder), 116-125. 

Edda (Younger), 125-127. 

Edinburgh, 72. 

Egder, 420, 421. 

Egil, 320. 

Egil Skallagrimson, 367, 394. 

Egyptians, 23. 

Eikthyrner, 263. 

Eir, 241. 

Elder, 347, 398. 

Eldhriniuer, 263, 264. 

Elektra, 53. 

Elivagar, 97, 172, 173, 305, 307, 

Elle, 320, 322. 

Ellida, 345. 

Else, 397. 

Elves, 201. 

Elvidner, 382. 

Embla, 82, 183, 185, 187, 196. 

Enoland, English, etc., 23, 34, 35, 
40, 42, 43-48, 52, 59, 65, 71, 72, 
74 75, 76, 78, 92, 113, 118, 119, 
128, 129, 165, 205, 208, 233, 301, 
308, 309, 347, 348, 360, 389. 

Ennius, 89. 

Erik Blood-ax, 392. 

Eros, 69. 

Etrurian, 74. 

Europe, European, etc., 35, 48, 
49, 51,52,59,68,71, 75,77, 92, 
99, 111.113, 120,129,164, 233, 
327, 360, 389. 

Euxinus, 232. 

Eve, 82, 390, 436. 

Evening, 180. 

Eyjafjord, 361. 

Eyvind Skaldespiller, 392. 

Fafner, 375, 877-380, 388. 
Fairfax (Harald). 26, 48, 49, 361, 

Falhofner, 189. " 

Farbaute, 374, 375. 

Fengr, 219. 

Feuris-wolf, 25, 53, 271, 388, 350, 

366, 373, 375, 382-387, 402, 409, 

414, 417-419, 425-429. 
Feusal, 186, 237, 285, 290. 
Fimbul-winter, 416. 
Fjalar, 133, 247, 248, 250. 
Fjolner, 219, 351. 
Fjorgyn, 123, 230, 237, 423. 
Folkvaug, 186, 364, 367, 393. 
Forenoon, 180. 
Forsete, 185, 186, 296, 297. 
Forseteland, 297. 
Fortuna, 308. 
Fraananger Force, 399. 
France, French, etc., 34, 41, 42, 

Frank, 48, 309. 
Freke, 219, 220. 
Frey, 46, 98, 104, 106, 108, 109, 

122, 165, 185, 200, 221, 231, 237, 

239, 274, 288, 301, 341, 348-363, 

369, 414, 418, 423, 426. 
Freyja, 110. 123, 125, 165, 186, 

215, 224-226, 237-239, 274, 276, 

288, 303, 308, 328-334, 341, 348, 

352, 364-368, 374, 394. 
Friday, 237, 367, 420. 
Fridthjof, 344-340, 360, 396. 
Frigg, 53, 98, 121-123, 186, 223, 

231, 236-241, 245, 259, 274, 279- 

281, 285-290, 294, 310, 364, 422, 

Frisians, 87. 
Frye (W. E.), 322. 
Fulla, 110, 238, 274, 289, 295. 
Funen, 233, 240, 241. 
Funfeng, 347, 398. 

Gagnraad, 121, 227, 424, 425. 
Gaia, 236, 237. 
Galar, 247, 248. 
Ganglere, 174, 195, 436. 
Gardrofa, 239. 
Garm, 419-424. 
Gausta-fjeld, 33, 66. 
Gaut, 228. 
Gefjun, 123, 240, 241,274. 



Gefn, 365. 

Geirrod, 123, 228, 310-312, 337, 

374, 375. 
Gelgja, 385. 
Genesis, 55, 89, 272. 
Gerd, 122, 200, 274, 351-360, 414. 
Gere, 219, 220. 
German, Germany, etc., 34, 35, 

39-49. 59. 72-75, 79, 118, 119. 

126, 19G, 203, 233, 270, 277, 298, 

309, 327, 352, 364, 403. 
Gerseme, 364. 
Giants, 29, 36, 38-40, 56, GO, 84, 

86, 98, 102, 104, 105, 172, 173. 
Gibraltar, 69. 
Gilling, 247, 248. 
Gimle, 54. 101, 128, 185, 187, 269, 

393, 430, 434. 
Ginuugagap, 56, 66, 98, 171, 172, 

Gisl, 189. 
Gisle Surson, 361. 
Gjallar-bridge, 187, 208, 288, 289. 
Gjallar-liorn, 188, 230, 272, 418, 

Gjalp, 311. 

Qjol, 172. 187, 288, 385. 
Gjuke, 380. 

Gladsheim, 98, 182, 231, 261, 262. 
Glaser. 262. 
Gleipner, 271, 384. 
Glener, 177. 
Glitner, 186, 296, 297. 
Glommen, 103. 
Glum, 361,362. 
Gnaa, 238, 239, 245. 
Gnipa-cave, 419-425. 
Gnipa-heller, 387. 
Gnipa-heath, 377. 
God (the supreme), 24-34, 49, 54, 

62. 66, 80, 119, 173, 272, 294, 

Goethe, 40, 292. 
Goin, 190. 
Golden Age. 183. 
Gold fax, 302-309. 
Goldtop, 189, 272, 288. 
Gondul, 267. 
Gothic. 23. 33. 42-47. 51, 61, 62, 

71, 73, 74, 78, 79, 94, 95, 111- 

114, 117, 125-129, 165, 205, 208, 

235, 273. 308. 327. 370, 371. 390, 

395. 407, 408, 415, 436. 
Graabak, 191. 
Grafvituer, 190. 
Grafvollud, 191. 
Gram, 155, 377, 378. 
Grane,159, 259, 381. ' 

Greek, Greece, etc., 23-25, 51-79, 

81, 87-89, 92, 97, 111-119, 192, 

193, 198, 237, 240, 245, 253, 254, 

273, 291. 308, 309, 339. 361,369, 

370, 413. 
Greenland, 65, 92. 
Greip, 311. 

Grid, 310, 311, 337, 433. 
Gridarvold, 310. 
Grimm (the brothers), 35, 39, 45, 

86, 240, 352. 
Grimner, 90. 122. 176. 178, 181, 

219, 220, 227-231, 261, 272, 279, 

296, 298, 358, 364. 
Grjottungard, 303-307. 
Groa, 305-309. 

Grundtvig, 10, 19, 60, 227, 240. 
Gudrun, 377, 381. 
Gullinburste, 106, 288, 301, 348, 

Gungner, 159, 220-224, 259. 418. 
Gunlad. 91, 132, 148, 149, 200, 

Gunnar Helming, 362, 388. 
Gylfaginning, 126. 
Gylfe, 126, 233, 234, 240, 436. 
Gymer, 347, 350-359. 

Haar.91,194, 195. 
Hakon, 267-270, 386, 394. 
Hiikonarmal, 392. 
Halfdan Gamle, 365. 
Hall f red, 44. 
Hallinskide, 271. 
Hamarsheimt, 110, 328-336. 
Hamder, 63. 
Hamlet, 78. 
Hamskerper, 239. 
Harald Haardraade, 92. 
, Harald Haarfager. See Fairfax. 



Harbard, 132, 123. 

Hate Hrodvitneson, 179, 181. 

Hauch, 60. 

Havamal, 120, 128-155, 163, 241, 
244, 250, 251. 

Hebe, 43G. 

Hebrews, 76, 77, 89. 

Hedrik, 363. 

Hefring, 347. 

Heiddraupner, 159. 

Heidrun, 263. 

Heimdal, 53, 84, 93, 101, 102, 171, 
185-189, 208, 280, 270-273, 288, 
331, 357, 366, 369, 375, 419-431. 

Heimskringla, 50. 82, 125, 232. 

Hekla (Mt.), 34 100. 

Hel, Helheim, Helgate, etc., 63, 
84, 124, 128, 172, 187, 200, 205, 
208, 229, 238, 270, 280-283, 
287-290, 295, 373. 375, 380, 382, 
887-397, 409, 415, 418-432. 

Helblinde, 374, 375. 

Helge, 49, 210, 363, 396. 

Helgoland, 297. 

Hengist, 48, 233. 

Hera, 87, 245. 

Herbert, 352. 

Hercules, 65, 78, 92, 119, 436. 

Hermes, 361. 

Hermion, 57. 

Herrnod, 91, 216, 270, 287-389. 

Herodotus, 77, 88. 

Hesiod, 118. 

Himinbjorg, 186, 273. 

Himinbrjoter, 324. 

Himingloefa, 346. 

Hindoos, 23, 53, 81. 

Hjalmgunnar, 156. 

Hjaltalin, 72. 

Hjuke, 182. 

Hler, 347. 

Hlidskjalf, 185, 187, 231, 237,352, 

Hlin, 238, 423, 425. 

Hlodjn, 236, 237, 433. 

Hnikar, 218. 

Hnos, 364. 

Hoddropner, 159. 

Hoder, 29, 82, 84. 185. 270, 280, 
284, 286, 290-292, 388, 414, 429, 
432, 434. 

Hodmimer, 429, 433. 

Keener, 81. 183, 185, 196, 215, 275, 

Hofud, 272. 
Hofvarpner, 238, 239. 
Holstein, 83, 233. 
Homer, 52, 77, 88, 89, 116. 118, 

119, 267. 
Horn, 365. 
Horsa, 48, 283. 
Howitts (William and Mary), 80, 

Hrsesvelger, 181, 182, 197. 
Hrap, 394. 
Hraudung, 310. 
Hreidmar. 375-377. 
Hrimfaxe, 178, 179. 
Hrimner, 244. 
Hropt, 158, 261, 429. 
Hroptatyr, 228, 258. 
Hrotte, 381. 
Hrungner, 91, 199, 200, 301-310, 

Hrym, 39, 418. 423. 
Hvergelmer. 172, 187, 188, 190, 

208. 263, 434. 
Huge, 317-321. 
Hugiu,29, 219,227. 
Hulder, 201. 
Humber, 40. 
Huuding, 218. 219. 
Hymer, 89, 101, 123, 199, 323-328, 

344, 397. 
Hyndla, 24, 54, 124, 215, 365, 366, 

Hyrroken, 287. 


Ibsen, 95. 

Iceland, 25, 34-50. 65, 72, 75, 77, 

81. 92. 116. 117, 126. 129, 227, 

290, 295, 296, 347, 361-364, 367, 

373, 884. 
Ida's Plains, 428, 429. 
Idavold, 182-187. 
Idun, 90, 98, 109, 123, 273-278, 

330, 369, 374, 375, 409. 
Ifing. 187. 
Iliad, 89, 116, 264. 
India, 81,116. 



lugeborg, 344, 366. 

lugemuud, 25, 361, 363. 

luguu, 351. 

lugve, 267. 

lustein, 365. 

lo, 87. 

Iris, 53, 273. 

Iron post, 403-407. 

Italy, 15, 75, 92. 

Ivald, 220, 227', 348. 

Ixion, 63. 

Jack the Giant-killer, 228. 

Jafnhaar, 91, 196. 

Jalk, 228. 

Japliet, 83. 

Jarusasa, 300-308. 

Jarnved, 179, 180. 

Jehovah. See God. 

Jew, 33, 58. 

Jochiimson, 167. 

Jonsson (Arugrim), 26. 

Jord, 178, 286, 237. 

Jormungander, 100, 101,382,387, 

Jotuuheim, 38, 91. 101, 110, 177, 
183, 184, 187, 196-198, 208,209, 
225, 226, 229, 240, 248, 276, 287, 
302, 305, 313, 322, 229-332, 334, 
337, 352, 354, 382, 421. 

Judas, 82. 

Judea, 57. 

Jul, 357, 363. 

Jupiter, 98, 300. 

Jutland, 83, 233, 241. 


Kadroma, 199. 

Keightley (Thomas), 201-205. 

Kerlaung, 189, 301. 

Ketil, 362. 

Keyser (Prof. R.), 47, 86, 126, 128, 

130, 163, 164, 390. 
Kjotve, 363. 
Klio, 253. 
Kolga, 347. 
Korrat, 189, 301. 
Kvaser, 91, 247, 248, 252, 253, 399. 

Ladrones Islands, 38. 

Laing (Samuel), 72, 129. 

Laocoon, 327. 

Latin, Rome, Roman, etc., 23, 31, 
42-44, 49, 68, 71-79, 83, 84, 88- 
99, 113,117, 119, 128,165, 232, 
235, 254, 291, 308, 309,327,328, 

Laufey, 374, 375. 


Leding, 383. 

Lerad, 263. 

Lif, 429, 433. 


Lightfoot, 189. 

Lincoln, 294. 

Lit, 288. 

Ljosalfaheim, 187. 

Lodbrok (Regner), 267. 

Loder, 81, 183, 185, 196, 215, 372, 
373, 391, 432. 

Lodfafner, 150-154. 

Lofn, 238, 239, 368. 

Loge, 317, 321. 

Logrinn, 240. 

Loire, 92. 

Loke, 28, 29, 38, 65, 81-84, 98, 
102-113, 123, 124, 185, 196, 220- 
226, 237, 260, 275-277, 281, 285, 
286, 290, 292, 295, 301, 310-312. 
317, 321, 322, 328-336, 338, 344, 
349, 350, 351, 371-409, 414, 418- 

London, 72. 

Lona-fellow (H. W.), 96, 97, 99, 
Loptr, 105, 372, 373. 

Lord's Supper, 31. 

Luther, 73, 309, 327, 328. 

Lybia, 69. 

Lynge, 218. 

Lyngve, 384. 


Maane, 177, 182. 
Maane (Thorkel), 25, 26. 
Maanegarm, 180, 417, 419, 420. 
Macbeth, 296, 381. 
Magna Charta, 92, 129. 



Magne, 29, 300, 301, 305, 308, 309, 

429, 432, 433. 
Magnusson (E.), 72, 382. 
Maguussen (Fiun), 352. 
Mallet, 232. 
Mannaheim, 187. 
Mannigfual, 87. 
Mardal, 365. 
Mars, 73, 89, 98. 
Marsh (George P.), 76. 
Mars' Hill, 25. 
Maurer (Koiirad), 72. 
Mediterranean Sea, 76, 847. 
Megingjarder. 29, 299 301, 310. 
Meile, 306. 
Meinert (H.), 403. 
Mercurius, 360. 
Mermaid, 204. 
Merman, 204. 
Midgard, 82, 98, 99, 175-179, 183, 

187, 197, 224, 300, 419, 423. 
Midgard -serpent, 53, 96. 123, 322- 

328, 375, 382, 387, 409, 417-419, 

426, 428, 429. 
Midnight, 180. 
Millers, 28. 
Milton, 69, 293. 
Mimer, 69, 96, 98. 103, 1-59, 188, 

189, 208, 209, 229, 230, 260, 344, 

418, 421, 433. 
Minerva, 307. 
Mithridates, 83, 232. 
Mjolner, 28, 79, 101-103, 110, 225, 

288, 299, 301, 305, 308, 310,312, 

315, 326, 329, 374, 429, 433. 
Mnemosvne, 53. 
Mode, 300, 301, 429, 432, 433. 
Modgud, 289. 
Modsogner, 183, 184. 
Mubius, 72. 
MiBso-Gothic, 75, 206. 
Moin, 190. 

Mokkerkalfe, 91. 304-309. 
Montesquieu, 129. 
Morninff, 180. 
Morris (William), 72, 383. 
Moses, Mosaic, 33, 70, 79, 89, 198, 

Miiller (Max), 47. 74. 
Munch (P. A.) 47. 

Mundilfare, 177, 178. 
Munin, 29, 53, 219, 227. 
Muspel, 181, 350, 354, 418, 422, 

Muspelheim, 54, 56, 98, 172, 175, 

176, 187, 193, 425, 427. 


Naastrand, 62, 99, 100, 128, 393, 

430, 434. 
Nagl far, 178,417,418,423. 
Nal, 374, 375. 
fcna. 84, 90, 98, 106, 109, 113, 

22^238, 239, 374, 387, 289, 294, 

296, 369, 394. 
Nare, or Narfe, 382, 400. 
Necks, 203. 
Nep, 288, 294. 
Nere, 211. 
Newtons, 28. 

Nida-mountains,430, 431,434,435. 
Nidhug, 187, 188. 190, 208, 431- 

Niebelangen-Lied, 43,47, 118, 126. 
Nifiheim, 56. 98, 124, 172, 187, 

188, 194, 208, 226, 364, 280, 282, 

382, 387, 416. 
Nifihel, 389. 
Night, 177-179. 
Niobe, 57. 
Nisses, 203. 
Nix, 105. 
Njal, 394. 
Njord, 123, 185, 186, 200, 231, 

239, 274, 277, 333, 841-364, 433. 
Noah, 55, 82, 83. 
Noatun. 186, 333, 341-843. 
Noon, 180. 
Nordre, 183. 
Normandy, 48, 92. 
Norns, 62, 109, 205. 
North American Review, 265. 
North Sea, 34, 87. 
Norve, 177, 179. 
Nottingham, 39. 
Numa Pompilius, 74, 

Odense, 233. 
Oder, 326, 364-868. 



Odin, 24, 26, 29, 35, 40, 49, 53-56, 

74. 81-84, 87, 90, 91, 96, 98, 101, 
103, 106, 108-113, 116, 120-130, 
144, 147, 149, 155-159, 163, 165, 
171, 174, 175, 182-189, 193-200, 
206, 209, 215-300, 302. 303, 308, 
309, 326, 332, 335-339, 347-351. 
358, 362-369, 372-370, 382-395, 
398^02, 408, 409, 414, 418-434. 

Odroerer, 149, 247-254. 

Oehlenschteger, 95, 108, 322. 

Oersted, 28. 

Ofner, 191,228. 

Okeanos, 53, 347. 

Okolner, 430, 434. 

Olaf Geirstada-alf, 389. 

Olaf in Lax-aa-dal, 367. 

Olaf the Saint, 335, 336. 

Ole. 382. 

Oiler, 244. 

Olympos, 53, 54. 

Orrnt, 189, 301. 

Orvaudel, 305-307. 

Orvar-Odd, 367. 

Ottar, 365, 366. 

Otte (E. C), 165. 

Oxford, 72. 

Psestum, 118. 

Paganism, 42, 49. 

Palestine, 65. 

Pan, 339. 

Paris, 92. 

Parnassos, 56, 72. 

Paul (the apostle), 25, 394. 

Pegasos. 227, 308. 

Penates, 361. 

Pennock (Barclay), 390. 

Persephone, 359. 

Persia, 81, 396. 

Peter 394 

Petersen (N. M.), 47, 116, 117, 

Plato, 77. 
Plautus, 89. 
Pluto, 81. 
Pompey, 83. 232. 
Pontus, 83, 232, 347. 

Proserpina, 360. 
Psyche, 69. 
Pyrrha, 56. 
Pythia, 57. 

Quirinus, 74. 



Rafnagud, 219. 

Rafnkel, 363. 

Ragnarok, 25, 60, 61, 66, 84, 96. 
100, 102, 120, 123, 230, 272, 273, 
285, 338, 339, 351, 354, 366,386, 
387, 392-395. 401, 409, 413^27 

Ran, 98, 103, 110, 245, 343-348, 
376, 395. 

Rask (Rasmus), 72, 82, 83. 

Ratatosk, 190. 

Rate, 148, 249-251. 

Reformation, 129. 

Regeneration, 428-436. 

Regin, 375-379. 

Reinbert, 403-407. 

Rhine, 69, 92. 

Ridel, 379, 380. 

Rig, 124, 273. 

Rind, 236-246, 280, 284, 433. 

Ring (King), 346. 

Ringhorn, 287, 295. 

Rjukan Force, 66. 

Rogner, 159, 259. 

Rolf Ganger, 48. 

Rolleif, 25. 

Romance, 58, 70, 75. 

Rome, Roman. See Latin. 

Romulus, 73, 89. 

Roskva, 300, 312, 313, 326. 

Rosterus, 243. 

Rosthiof, 243, 344. 

Rouen 48. 

Rudbek, 83. 

Rune, 42, 50. 

Runeburg, 293. 

Rune Song, 254-259. 

Runic Chapter, 155, 273. 

Russia, 41,92. 

Ruthenians, 243. 



Sabines, 73, 74. 

Saga (Goddess), 186, 253. 369. 

Sagas (Histories), 36, 38, 43, 44, 

49, 72, 77, 88, 96, 126, 127, 218- 

223, 227, 235, 295, 360, 361. 
Saeger, 182. 

Sfehrimuer, 69, 263, 264. 
Saemiug, 234 
Sfemund, 37, 38, 50, 116. 
Sars (J. E.), 47. 
Saturnus, 165. 
Saxo Grammaticus, 82, 232, 243, 

Saxon, 40, 42, 48, 233, 240. 
Scandinavian, Scandinavia, 34, 

35, 40-47, 59, 72, 75, 89, 95, 96, 

Scotland, 39, 40, 75, 203. 
Scheldt, 92. 
Scythia, 232. 
Seabold, 361. 
Seine, 48, 92. 
Seneca, 78. 
Sesrumner, 186, 364. 
Seva-fjeld, 396. 
Shakespeare, 40, 52, 78, 79, 119, 

222, 296, 366, 377, 381. 
Sibylline, 89. 
Sicily, 48. 
Sif, 28, 29, 102, 103, 107-lOi), 220, 

221, 300, 301, 303, 308, 333, 374, 

375, 399. 
Sigdrifa, 128, 129, 155-163, 230. 
Sigfrid, 118. 

Sigmund, 156, 216, 218, 392. 
Sigrun, 396. 
Sigtuna, 234, 235. 
Sigurd, 48, 130, 155-163, 318, 219, 

377-381. 388. 
Sigyn, 111, 274, 375, 382, 401, 436. 
Si'lfrintop, 189. 
Simul, 182. 
Sindre, 106, 107, 220, 221, (Hall, 

430, 434.) 
Siner, 189. 
Sisyphos, 64. 
Siva, 81. 

Sjofn, 238, 239, 368. 
Skaaue, 226. 

Skade, 200, 377, 341-343, 353, 400, 

Skaldskaparniiil, 126. 
Skeidbrimer, 189. 
Skidbladner, 34, 122, 220, 348. 
Skilfing, 228. 
Skinfaxe, 178, 179. 
Skirner, 122, 331, 352-360, 384, 

Skjalf, 365. 
Skjold, 83, 233, 365. 
Skogul, 267, 268. 
Skol, 179, 181. 
Skrymer, 312-323, 371. 
Skuld, 98, 110, 165, 189, 210, 

Sleipner, 159, 189. 317, 224-227. 

359, 370, 280, 282, 287, 302, 308, 

374, 408. 
Slid. 387. 

Slidrugtanne, 288, 348. 
Snorre Sturleson, 38, 50, 83, 116, 

135, 332. 
Snotra, 238. 
Socrates, 88. 368. 
Sokmimer, 200. 
Sokvabek, 186, 253. 
Sol, 177. 

Solomon, 89, 130. 
Solon, 88. 
Son, 347, 349. 
Spanish, 38, 65, 75, 93, 
Sparta, 59. 
Spirit of Laws, 139. 
Staerkodder, 199. 
Stockholm, 334. 
Stephens (George). 33. 
Stephens (St.), 403-407. 
Stromkarl, 96. 
Sudre, 183. 
Sulun, 82. 

Surt, 172, 338, 351, 418-433. 
Suttung. 148, 149, 248-252, 358. 
Svadiltare. 224-326. 
Svafner, 191,228, 381. 
Svalin, 177, 178. 
Svartalf-heim, 187, 376, 384. 
Svasud, 180, 182. 
I Svithjod, 82. 
I Svolner, 306. 



Swedes, 34, 35, 41-47, 83, 126, 226, 

233, 234, 240, 241, 244, 362. 
Syn, 238, 239. 
Syr, 365. 

Tanais, 233. 

Tanngnjost, 299. 

Tanugrisner, 299, 301. 

Tantalos, 63. 

Tartaros, 60, 63. 

Taylor, Bayard, 360. 

Tegner, 95^ 344, 346, 360. 

Teutonic, 34-36, 41-52, 70-78, 90, 
296, 309, 327, 328. 

Thames, 48. 

Thaumas, 53. 

Theodolf, St., 265. 

Thessaliaii, 57. 

Thibet, 199. 

Thialfe, 91,300-326. 

Thjasse, 275-277, 342, 352, 374. 

Thjodolf of Hvin, 306, 393. 

Thjodroerer, 258. 

Thok, 65, 290, 295, 389, 397, 407. 

Thor, 26-29, 39, 40, 46, 49, 52, 53, 
74, 79, 82, 84, 87, 91, 93, 96, 98- 
124, 165. 185-189, 220-226, 237, 
267, 270, 287, 288, 298-339, 358, 
362, 365. 369. 371, 374, 387, 395- 
400, 406, 418, 426, 429, 482, 433. 

Thorgerd, 367. 

Thorgrim, 301. 

Thorkel, 361, 362. 

Thorp, Benjamin, 46, 72 

Thorstein, 396. 

Thorwald Krok, 362. 

Thorwaldsen, Albert, 436. 

Thride, 91, 196. 

Throndhjem, 360-363. 

Thrudgelmer, 173, 194. 

Thrudheim, 186. 

Thrudvang, 186, 298, 300, 305, 
322, 335. 

Thrung, 365. 

Thrym, 39, 111, 123, 124, 200, 3Q8- 
336, 365. 

Thrymheim, 342, 343. 

Thund (Odin), 228, 255. 

Thvite, 386. 

Tiberias, 93, 

Tityos, 63. 

Trent, 39. 

Trier, 265. 

Trinity, 81, 91. 

Trolls, 202. 

Troy, 118. 

Tryggvesson, Olaf, 44, 360, 363. 

Tuesday, 270. 

Tver-aa, 301, 362. 

Twilight of the gods. See Rag- 

Tyndall, 28. 
Typhon, 413. 
Tyr, 1.57, 165, 185, 267, 270, 271, 

323, 326, 337, 349, 350, 383, 385, 

414, 419. 


Uller, 185, 186, 281, 300-306. 

Umias, 206. 

United States, 65. 

Upsala, 362. 

Urauos, 236. 

Urd, Urdar-fount, etc., 95, 98, 110, 

149, 165, 109, 189, 190, 191, 208, 

209, 301. 
Utgard, 196, 315, 316. 
Utgard-Loke, 316-325, 371. 


Vafthrudner, 120, 121, 173-181, 

227, 390, 291, 424, 425. 
Vafud, 228. 
Vak, 244. 
Vaker, 228. 
Valaskjalf, 231. 
Vale, 185. 237, 245, 291, 338-340, 

383, 400, 409, 429-433. 
Valfather. See Odin. 
Valhal, 00, 98. 108-112,122,138, 

185, 315, 310, 334, 330, 231, 337, 

261-269, 286, 290, 302-308, 365, 

389-394, 415-420. 
Valkyries, 69, 110, 112, 265-269. 
Valtara, 280, 283. 
Vanaheim, 187, 341. 
Vandal, 79, 308. 
Vanlande, King, 393. 
Vans, 341-370." 



Var, 238, 239, 334, 368. 

Vasud, 180. 

Vatnadal, 3G1. 

Ve, 56, 81, 91, 174, 175, 195, 215. 

Vecha, 243, 244. 

Vedfolner, 190. 

Vedic, 52, 116. 

Vegtam, 124, 227, 229, 241, 280- 

Veuus, 237, 808, 367. 
Veor, 323. 

Verdande. 98, 110, 165, 189,209. 
Vestre, 183. 
Vidar, 185,310,333-340,398,419- 

Vienna, 403-407. 
Vidfin, 183. 
Viga-glum, 361,302. 
Vigfusson, Gudbraud, 72. 
Vigrid, 418, 425. 
Vile, 56, 81, 84, 91, 174 175, 195, 

215, 259. 
Vimer, 311. 
Viudlone, 180. 
Vindsval, 180, 181. 
Vinland. 52, 65. 
Vingolf, 183, 185, 216, 393. 
Volsung and Volsung Saga, 217, 

218, 322. 
Voluud, 124. 

Voluspa, 120, 171, 176, 180-183, 
209, 229, 230, 273, 290, 424, 431. 
Von, 386. 
Vonargander, 386. 
Voring Force, 66. 


Wagner, 199. 
Welhaven, 95. 
Wergelaud, 95. 
Wiener-wald, 403-407. 
Wind-home, 439, 432. 
Wisconsin, 245. 


Ydaler, 186, 302. 

Ygdrasil, 74, 82, 86, 87, 94, 98, 130, 

123, 188-191, 205-209, 217, 229, 

254, 260, 299, 301, 370, 387, 418- 

Ygg, 206, 328, 282. 
Ymer, 40, 56, 66, 82, 96, 132, 125, 

171-176, 183, 194^196, 215, 237, 

414. 426. 
YngliDgs, 233. 


Zealand, 240, 241. 

Zendavista, 435. 

Zeus, 53-56, 236, 245, 307, 413. 

Date Due 

D B2